I am beyond excited about the Museum’s partnership with Smarthistory, which was funded by The Kress Foundation. In May 2009, Smarthistory founders Beth Harris and Steve Zucker visited with staff in Portland in order to share their conversation-based interpretive method. If you have ever been to the Smarthistory website, you already know its this really engaging and creative multimedia space where you can learn about art and art history. According to the Museum, the staff wanted to find out whether this method might encourage a deeper and freer conversation for visitors.
While this remains to be seen, it is obvious that the inclusion of a Multimedia section on its website is a smart and fresh action by the Museum as it strives to more actively engage its web-savvy public. I look forward to scoping out the Conversations About Works of Art audio later tonight (currently blogging incognito from the internship!). It’s a great start, and in the future I hope to see more from the Museum in the way of online resources, exhibits, collections information, and educational tools. While some of us may be surprised that the organization is just now catching up with the digital trend that some museums have been keen on for a while, we need to remember that it was only a year ago that Portland welcomed a new savvy Director of Education from the Getty Foundation, Dr. Tina Olsen. It’s obvious she is working wonders with the educational programming there, including catching it up to the 21st-century. Kudos to the Portland Art Museum!