Most people take five to 10 seconds to examine a work of art. It's what they might miss about the objects in that fraction of time that prompted Beth Dalton and her team of students to spend the fall 2009 semester making the interactive website Art In Sight.
Art In Sight makes resources of the David Owsley Museum of Art at Ball State University available to high school students and their teachers. Its online offerings include a downloadable audio tour of the museum, an interactive art history timeline, instructional materials for educators, and a section called "Art Exploration," where visitors are given prompts about objects in the museum that facilitate discussion of the work.
"Our goal was to make the Ball State University Museum of Art more accessible to area high school students by giving them online resources to help them carefully consider art in the collection. Ideally, this website should be used in conjunction with a class visit to the museum itself," says Dalton, an English instructor who also teaches courses in the Honors College.
Dalton's Virginia B. Ball Center for Creative Inquiry seminar, Art to Go: Ball State Museum of Art Online, was an enriching experience for many of the students who participated.
"In a traditional classroom, you come to class, take your notes, and get your grade," says Michelle Manzo, ’11, a telecommunications major. "With an immersive learning course, it's rewarding to know you have something to look forward to—this finished project you're turning over to the community—that's more than a seven-page paper you'd turn in to your professor."
The audio tour featured on the Art In Sight website has been downloaded onto MP3 players now available at the museum. Dalton says the tour also can be downloaded from the website to individuals' MP3 players such as iPhones and iPods. Visitors also can look up information online while at the museum, thanks to Ball State's high speed wireless network.
Prior to working on Art In Sight, advertising major Kelly Laffin says, she'd given little thought to how art museums operate.
"The last time I stepped foot in an art museum was in the eighth grade," says Laffin, ’10. "I had no idea how much behind-the-scenes work goes into running a museum, and I have such a greater appreciation for the people who work there."
Tania Said Schuler, the museum's curator of education, says the museum staff looks forward to using Art In Sight as a catalyst for future web-based projects for the museum.
"All along, the site was considered a prototype for what kinds of web resources we might offer in the future," she says. "Now that we have something we can see, I hope that we can garner the financial and staff support we need to integrate new media into the educational role of the museum."
David Owsley Museum of Art
College of Communications, Information, and Media
College of FIne Arts
College of Sciences and Humanities
Department of English
Department of Journalism
Department of Telecommunications
Virginia B. Ball Center for Inquiry