Meet MF Husain’s AI twin at MAP

Woman and Four Horses - MF Husain (c 1976)   | Photo Credit: Museum of Art & Photography

The pandemic handed out lessons by the dozen. Some welcome, some forced, but all essential. In Bengaluru, at the Museum of Art & Photography (MAP) — founded by industrialist and art collector Abhishek Poddar — fine-tuning their digital offerings has been one of the big takeaways. “Our digital focus and programming has helped us reach a wider range of people and geographies; we would not have managed otherwise,” says Kamini Sawhney, director.

Participants at a MAP workshop for educators

Participants at a MAP workshop for educators   | Photo Credit: Museum of Art & Photography

Tech forward
  • Scheduled to open in 2022, the physical museum is ramping up its use of technology. It will feature initiatives like a digital touch wall and virtual art and holographic imagery — visitors can virtually walk inside a painting and select objects from a collection not on display.

Like their digital museum initiative, MAP Plus. With a digital membership, people can access a variety of virtual exhibitions and events. For instance, the private museum tapped into artificial intelligence capabilities to create a digital persona of artist MF Husain. Visitors can interact with the late artist’s AI twin, to learn more about his life and work.

“Art is something that has to be accessible to and enjoyable for everybody. We have taken a 360 degree approach to accessibility, right from the physical space at MAP [they have a quiet room for people suffering from panic attacks, anxiety and autism; a lift with Braille and sound cues; a floor map of the building as a tactile display; and induction loops for people with low hearing] to digital activities and educational workshops,” explains Carolina Artegiani, head of development, MAP.

What audiences want

Most recently, in its efforts to foster a conversation between the public and museums, MAP undertook (in collaboration with the ReReeti Foundation) a research project to understand audience behaviour. “We wanted to learn what the motivations are for people to participate in any cultural activity,” shares Artegiani.

Kamini Sawhney (left) and Carolina Artegiani

Kamini Sawhney (left) and Carolina Artegiani  

According to the report (based on a survey of 500 people), more than half of the respondents, mostly under 30 years, felt museums in India could offer more engaging content. And while 54.5% of the respondents feel arts and culture are essential, they rarely manage to dedicate time to it.

Digital tours
  • MAP also launched its ‘Museum Without Borders’ last year — a video series that features curators discussing different objects from museums across India and the world. Currently, the seven-episode series features museums such as Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum in Jaipur, the National Gallery Singapore, and Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

MAP believes making the interaction a two-way street is key. “Instead of unilaterally deciding what the audiences should see, museums should collaborate with the public to decide what should actually be displayed,” says Artegiani. In fact, they are already putting the findings to use. Based on the research, music is the most popular cultural activity. So, the second edition of the museum’s annual ‘Art is Life’ festival (a by-product of the pandemic) is themed Sound Frames and will showcase the interconnectedness of music and the visual arts.

Krishna Eating the Fire - Manjit Bawa (c 1980)

Krishna Eating the Fire - Manjit Bawa (c 1980)   | Photo Credit: Museum of Art & Photography

The survey is the first in a series of planned steps, adds Artegiani. “If people think going to MAP is cool, then museum-going will become an activity just as going to a park on a Saturday afternoon,” she concludes.

Sound Frames is on from December 3-5. Details:

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2021 2:27:32 AM |

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