A Smart Move: Barberini Digital
Software billionaire Hasso Plattner, co-founder of SAP, funded the reconstruction of the Frederician 18th-century Palais Barberini in Potsdam, Germany, which had been severely damaged in World War II and torn down thereafter. He has re-opened it as a Museum in January 2017, attracting worldwide attention.
Heart of the opening exhibitions: an exceptional selection of impressionist masterpieces by artists like Claude Monet, Gustave Caillebotte and Auguste Renoir, complemented by a collection of further modern day artists.
The artists displayed had, at their time, freed themselves from the constraints of the elite art academies. Similarly, the Museum Barberini is now striving to also take a step outside of the ordinary to offer its visitors not only an innovative, but also a digital art experience.
The idea: a 3,30 x 5,40 m media wall, integrated into the museum, showing the displayed artworks in high definition, embedding them into a digitally processed, easy to access art-historical context.
After having won the tender, the contracted SAP team delivered a convincing result: the digital transformation of the art experience of museum visitors through the “Barberini Smart Wall”.
Co-Innovation for Transformation
In June 2016, SAP had formed a multidisciplinary team of designers, developers and consultants to be engaged with the realisation of “Barberini Digital”.
The end-to-end collaboration of everyone involved, i.e. interaction- and visual-designers, developers as well as the Museum Barberini itself proved to be key for success.
First, the project’s digital identity was defined at the SAP AppHaus Berlin and in close cooperation with the Museum Barberini and its partner agencies Thjnk, BrücknerAping.
Within 8 months, using agile and Design Thinking methods, the SAP team and its partners D-LABS and leetvision designed and developed the user experience of the museum visitor, the software needed for the digital display of the artworks, as well as the app now running on an iPad, through which the user can operate the Smart Wall.
In an iterative, design oriented process and by conducting user and usability research early on, SAP managed to design the Smart Wall in such a way that it now responds to the different needs of a diverse target group.
Experiencing Art Intuitively
The Smart Wall contents were intelligently interlinked to enable the user to look beyond the canvas digitally and to individually explore the history of the art works, the themes they are categorized in, the artists behind them, and their creative places.
With the help of an iPad, the museum visitor can navigate through greatly enlarged, razor-sharp images of the 160 originals exhibited in the museum as they are shown on the Smart Wall. Each of the 35 artists represented is introduced in a short profile. An interactive map of Europe invites visitors to learn more about the places . A side by side comparison mode contrasts the originals with recent photography depicting the same or similar motives. In a timeline, the paintings are screened chronologically.
The Smart Wall experience provides a user friendly and intuitive usability. While it is easy to access for elderly users, the generation of “digital natives” is taken by the hand and led back to the originals.
The Barberini Smart Wall does not compete with the actual exhibition, but digitally enhances the art experience of the museum’s visitors, bringing them closer than ever to the originals than ever before.