Exploring the Explosion of Museum AI

Category: Center for the Future Of Museums Blog
The Next Rembrandt was created by deep learning algorithms.
The Next Rembrandt was created by deep learning algorithms.

Here are five good reasons you should join me in Miami Nov 1-2 to explore how museums can use artificial intelligence to fuel their work (illustrated by recent news):

AI can help users in and out of the museum explore collections in new ways

Barnes Foundation uses intelligent machines to offer new ways of interpreting art collections
Attractions Management
July 17, 2018

Philadelphia’s Barnes Foundation art gallery has used machine learning to create an intelligent art critic, with the technology able to interpret and pair digital artwork together to recognize art style, objects and even images of Jesus. Created to help users view the artificially generated art collections, the new AI can identify basic elements in an artwork – such as people, objects and animals – which it will then categorize and place in different artificially generated collections. A research team from Rutgers University created the technology, which at its core tries to ascertain visual similarity among objects. The AI differs from a recognition project created by Fabrica for the Tate, which is trained to recognize images using photographs, not art. By comparison, the Rutgers version understands the basics of art and will continue to learn as it takes in more images.

AI is a powerful tool for managing and mining archives

Artificial Intelligence Is Unlocking the Vatican’s Secret Archives
The Atlantic
April 30, 2018

The Vatican Secret Archives is one of the grandest historical collections in the world. It’s also one of the most useless. Located within the Vatican’s walls, next door to the Apostolic Library and just north of the Sistine Chapel, the VSA houses 53 linear miles of shelving dating back more than 12 centuries. That said, the VSA isn’t much use to modern scholars, because it’s so inaccessible. Of those 53 miles, just a few millimeters’ worth of pages have been scanned and made available online. Even fewer pages have been transcribed into computer text and made searchable. But a new project could change all that. Known as In Codice Ratio, it uses a combination of artificial intelligence and optical-character-recognition (OCR) software to scour these neglected texts and make their transcripts available for the very first time. If successful, the technology could also open up untold numbers of other documents at historical archives around the world.

AI can help museums create compelling, personalized experiences for visitors

National Soccer Hall of Fame to use facial recognition for fan experience
Front Row Soccer
Aug 21, 2018

The National Soccer Hall of Fame and NEC Corporation of America announced a facial recognition-enabled guest experience for visitors to the Hall. NEC and the NSHOF are the first to use facial recognition technology to individualize a guest’s experience in a sports and entertainment venue. Guests will benefit from facial recognition the moment they enter the Hall as they will be prompted upon check-in to share their hometown, favorite soccer position, favorite U.S. teams and their level of fandom. Based on that information, digital touch screens, virtual reality and gesture technology inside of the Hall of Fame will recognize guests using the NeoFace facial recognition software that will personalize each visit based on their individual preference.

AI can be shaped into engaging, informative museum guides

Dot, the new Akron Art Museum chatbot, wants to get you talking about art and life
Cleveland.com
August 5, 2018

She’s smart, she’s sassy, and she uses artworks at the Akron Art Museum to get you talking with your friends about art and life and the connections between the two. Meet Dot, the museum’s new chatbot digital tour guide. She’s got dark-frame glasses and a pink pageboy hairdo and she’s been designed to spark conversations among museum visitors via texts on Facebook Messenger app, the social network’s instant message function. Dot introduces herself as a guide who will take a squad of visitors through a six-stop “choose your own adventure” tour of the museum’s permanent collection, pos[ing] questions designed to users talking to each other about life, not specifically about art.

And museums can use AI-powered business analytics to improve their own planning

Art Institute uses data to give visitors what they want
Crain’s Chicago Business
May 18, 2018

If you saw “Degas: At the Track, on the Stage” at the Art Institute of Chicago in 2015 or early 2016, you were part of an experiment. The show, a microcosm of the impressionist artist’s work, used a sophisticated attendance model to test the effect of smaller exhibits on attendance. Measuring Wi-Fi usage throughout the museum revealed that visitors spent more time in the room containing the Degas exhibit than they would have had that room not contained a special exhibit. Thanks to that experiment, the Art Institute has stepped up smaller exhibits, opening a new show, on average, every two weeks. They hope these exhibits will bump up the 60 percent annual renewal rate for its 100,000 members. The new plan will also give the museum a break from the time and expense of blockbusters. The audience analytics program behind the more-and-smaller strategy is built on visitor ZIP codes as well as 10 attendance models.

Want to learn how your museum can harness the power of AI? Register now for ‘Museums and New Intelligences,’ to be held at the Pérez Art Museum Miami in Miami on November 1-2, 2018. At this working meeting, we will investigate the rapid evolution of artificial intelligence and learn how museums might benefit from these technologies while managing the challenges associated with the growth of AI, machine learning, automation, and translation. Together with other senior leaders, artists, and scholars from inside and outside of the museum field we will consider the implications these technologies have on the practice, promise, and ethics of museums in the coming years. Keynotes by Kristen Summers, technical lead at IBM working on AI applications for the public sector, and Surya Mattu, a Brooklyn based artist, engineer and investigative journalist who looks at the ways in which algorithmic systems perpetuate systemic biases and inequalities in society.

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