The affect of digital mediums in museums

Many art galleries have had significant digital additions and improvements over the past ten years, as a result of the expansion of the technology era. These changes have also affected jobs behind the scenes, for example, the curators, registrars and collection management teams, who have needed to be aware of modern software advancements. Digitalisation has inspired not only the gallery teams or artists but also visitors who approach galleries with a digital mindset.

Not only galleries, but even artists themselves have adapted to this transition in digitalised communication. The ubiquitous use of digital software has been included in recent exhibitions, notably in ‘David Hockney: 82 Portraits and 1 Still-Life‘ which had four iPads all showing Hockney’s digital artwork. The use of an iPad in the gallery is similar to the Smartify application as a digital component, which can be universally utilised.

David Hockney’s iPad Art

Hockney talks about his iPad art, “I just happen to be an artist who uses the iPad, I’m not an iPad artist. It’s just a medium. But I am aware of the revolutionary aspects of it, and it’s implications.” – David Hockney, 2016

Hockney mentions, ‘It’s just a medium, therefore, digital technologies increase the accessibility in art galleries and can include unique insights into an artists research methods, bringing the visitor and artist even closer.

Grayson Perry, for example in his 2017 Serpentine exhibition, included two open pages of his sketchbook, but more significantly, an installation video on a standard monitor of his sketchbook, whilst slowly proceeding through each page. This may show that the public relishes a more interactive exhibition.

Grayson Perry Sketchbook

Grayson Perry is an accomplishes illustrative artist. For example, the above instalment is highly relevant to Perry’s narrative because he experiments with different textual mediums for his artworks, such as introductions to his artwork and sketchbook via the use of an iPad. Similar to Hockney, Perry has created digital art to portray his theory of the ‘modern man’. These illustrations have been a critical element within digital art as they portray a satirical aspect to the traditional art of drawing ‘stick figures’, and they are sketchy which adds to the experimental nature of Perry’s artwork.

Grayson Perry’s ‘Do I make myself Claire?’

Nowadays, the presence of digital aspects in museums is crucial, particularly in The Hayward Gallery as they regularly hold fully digital exhibitions.

The Hayward collaborated with the newly opened gallery space ‘The Store’ in 2016 exhibited, ‘The Infinite Mix’. This was a collaboration of ten videos representing different narratives all in their own large studio rooms. This is an example of art in a literal format with very minimal artist statements. There was a digital tour map, including digital arrows and a navigating voice-over, which directed visitors through the interactive experience.

The director of ‘The Store’ explained, ‘The future of all space is both the physical experience of being in that space and broadcasting that experience to the world.’ –  (

This idea of ‘being in that space and broadcasting’ is at the heart of this new view of art. It establishes the digital revolution’s effects on the art world. The audience can connect better when viewing digital images as visitors can feel more engaged and connected to the digital art as nearly every visitor The audience can connect better when viewing digital images as visitors are aware of the internet and its incredible transformative effects thus may feel align to the gallery’s exhibition or collection.

Thus visitors may now feel more able to relate to and understand the gallery’s exhibitions and collections, rather than in the past where art was often more elitist and highbrow and potentially inaccessible to the masses.

As a result of this, and on the topic of audience navigating around galleries, audiences hold high expectations for how they navigate galleries and view the artwork. For example, the application Smartify, allows you to point your phone’s camera at thousands of artworks to receive the artist’s name and their statement, enabling visitors to become self-taught, therefore the gallery encourages visitors into a new level of art education. Furthermore, Smartify creators may also include an audio guide element, allowing the audience to connect and understand more about the painting.

Smartify being used in The National Gallery

In conclusion and interestingly, the creative team for ‘Artitudes Design‘ describe Smartify as ‘intended to complement real-world visits to galleries and not just act as an online image database.‘ The image database in galleries curated by the IS teams is usually held strictly, however, Smartify holds updated versions of the paintings, and is frequently updated with the audience in mind and encouraging them to learn about new and creative ways of viewing art.


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