At one point, probably on a class trip, you learned some basic museum ground rules: Be quiet. No touching. No photos. No running. Be more quiet. If you grew up thinking your job as a viewer was to look at the ancient artifacts and priceless masterpieces before shuffling along, well, you could be forgiven.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art, for one, wants to change that. This weekend, they’re inviting teams of hackers into the galleries for the Power of Art Hackathon, a competition to develop new apps to engage, educate and entertain visitors.
“The museum is keen on reaching out to new audiences and to show that art can be experienced in different ways,” says Bill Weinstein, the museum’s director of information and interpretive technologies. “The audience can and should have an active role in how they view and interpret art.”
After two days of exploring the museum, finalists will present their app ideas to a panel of judges and a public audience on Sunday afternoon. Although practical concerns such as feasibility and sustainability will be taken into consideration, what the Art Museum is most concerned with is simple: creating a fun, interactive visit.
“Coming to the museum is a social experience,” says Weinstein. “We hope that the apps that are suggested help connect people with each other and spark conversations about the art.”
If you go
The Power of Art Hackathon’s Sunday presentation (2 p.m.) is open to the public in the museum’s Van Pelt Auditorium (2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway). Philamuseum.org