The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) has long distinguished itself through the innovative use of new technologies as a means of enhancing visitor understanding of modern and contemporary art. The Museum is proud to have received a number of important media and technology awards over the last year in recognition of its cutting-edge contributions.
“SFMOMA has been using interactive media to restore context to artworks that conditions of museum presentation strip away,” says Peter Samis, associate curator, interpretation, SFMOMA. “Through our program of video interviews with living artists, as well as research and media development focused on answering common visitor questions, we have built a vital and varied base of digital resources for use on-site and online.”
AAM Muse Awards
In 2006 SFMOMA swept the American Association of Museums’ (AAM) Muse awards, winning or placing prominently in every category where it fielded entries. At an awards ceremony held at the AAM’s annual meeting in Boston in May, SFMOMA’s Interactive Educational Technology (IET) programs received the following prizes:
Gold Muse Award: Educational/Interpretive Art
Voices and Images of California Art: Robert Bechtle
SFMOMA was awarded Gold for Best Educational/Interpretive Program about Art for the interactive feature Voices and Images of California Art: Robert Bechtle. The feature was created to supplement the exhibition Robert Bechtle: A Retrospective, on view at SFMOMA from February 12 through June 5, 2005. The program was praised for the skillful integration of videos demonstrating Bechtle’s working process, close-ups of finished paintings, and background on the artist’s life and philosophy—”a terrific presentation of an artist at work, with deftly orchestrated sequences that mix action and interview to keep the experience fresh.” The feature is available online at www.sfmoma.org/bechtle.
Gold Muse Award: Collection Database/Reference Resource
Koret Discovery Interface: Making Sense of Modern Art
SFMOMA’s second Gold Muse Award was bestowed on the latest version of Making Sense of Modern Art, the Museum’s digital education program. Awarded in the category Database/Reference Resource, this feature was the result of a close collaboration with the San Francisco design firm Method Inc. Muse judges were especially impressed by how “the program melds a decade of prescient rich media, video, interactives, and the art objects themselves into a cohesive presentation, which feels as contemporary as SFMOMA’s most cutting-edge exhibition.”
The Koret Discovery Interface unites 12 years of multimedia production in a single, seamless interface available to visitors on second-floor gallery kiosks and in the Learning Lounge in the Museum’s Koret Visitor Education Center.
Bronze Muse Award: Two-way Communication/Telecollaboration
SFMOMA Artcasts is the first museum podcast program to win a Muse Award. The innovative new series received a Bronze award in the category Two-way Communication/Telecollaboration. “Using podcasting to explore visual arts represents a new application for arts discussion, which is a completely appropriate way to reach the community and make interrelated connections between the various arts,” Muse judges noted. SFMOMA Artcasts are produced in collaboration with Sausalito-based Antenna Audio and are available at www.sfmoma.org/podcasts. They also have been prominently featured by Apple’s iTunes Music Store at www.apple.com/ipod/ipodtours/. (SFMOMA Artcasts also were named “Podcast of the Week” by the Times of London in January 2006. The Times wrote: “You can’t help but get the feeling that one day all arts institutions will be doing this sort of thing,” referring to the Artcasts’ unique blend of music, poetry, and the voices of artists, curators, and visitors.
Full AAM Muse Award listings and commentaries are available at:
2006 New Media Consortium Center of Excellence Awards
The New Media Consortium (NMC) is an international consortium of nearly 200 leading colleges, universities, museums, and research centers dedicated to the exploration and use of new media and new technologies. At a ceremony in Cleveland in June 2006, the consortium recognized SFMOMA with a Center of Excellence Award “for [its] innovation and creativity in expanding the boundaries of informal learning and how we think about art.” The Center of Excellence Award is the highest honor bestowed by the NMC, awarded for demonstrated excellence and outstanding achievement in the application of technology to learning or creative expression.
One Show Awards
For more than 30 years, the One Show, the premier international advertising awards show, has been setting the industry standard for creative excellence. Categories include print, television, radio, outdoor, innovative media and marketing, and, more recently, integrated branding.
Bronze Pencil Award: Public Service/Nonprofit/Education
Koret Discovery Interface: Making Sense of Modern Art
SFMOMA and Method Inc. were awarded a Bronze Pencil Award in the Public Service/Nonprofit/Education section for the Koret Discovery Interface: Making Sense of Modern Art.
Steve: The Art Museum Social Tagging Project
SFMOMA is a participating partner in Steve: The Art Museum Social Tagging Project, which was recently awarded a National Leadership Grant from the federal government’s Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). (For a detailed description of the project, see www.steve.museum.)
This is SFMOMA’s second open-source initiative. For the last three years, the Museum has acted as co-lead with the New Media Consortium on the Pachyderm 2.0 initiative, recipient of a 2003 IMLS National Leadership Grant. For that project SFMOMA contributed its intellectual property in an online, Flash-based multimedia authoring and publishing system to the consortium to enable the development of a new, open-source version of the tool, which is now available royalty-free to museums, colleges, and universities across North America. (For more on Pachyderm 2.0, see www.pachyderm.org.)