WILLIAMSTOWN -- When the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute’s museum building reopens in summer 2014 after a two-year renovation, visitors will enjoy an enhanced gallery experience of the permanent collection, thanks in part to a recent award of $144,170 from the Institute of Museum and Library Services that will fund development and implementation of an innovative mobile interpretation system. The grant to the Clark is one of 244 awards, totaling $30 million, made through the IMLS grant programs.
"IMLS recognizes three valuable roles museums have in their communities: putting the learner at the center, serving as community anchors, and serving as stewards of cultural and scientific collections," said IMLS Director Susan Hildreth. "It is exciting to see the many ways our newly announced grants further these important museum roles. I congratulate the slate of 2013 museum grant recipients for planning projects that advance innovation in museum practice, lifelong learning, and community engagement."
The Clark’s grant supports a mobile, touch-screen multimedia guide, available as an application on museum-provided tablets and on visitors’ own devices. A new mobile interpretation system is a significant component of the Clark’s plan for the reinstallation of its collections in its original 1955 museum building and in the Manton Research Center, both currently under renovation and scheduled to open in summer 2014.
The Clark will replace its existing audio guide with a dynamic and responsive mobile interpretation system that provides carefully curated layers of content in multiple media, including video and historic images, to accommodate varied levels of interest, degrees of background knowledge, and preferred learning styles. The new system will be designed to assist visitors with collections, exhibitions, general information about the Clark, and logistics of planning a visit. It will also feature a "Just for Kids" tour, as well as customized tours curated by members of the local community and tools such as audio induction loops and adjustable font sizes to assist disabled visitors.
The application will be available onsite via mid-sized tablets, packaged with all accessories into a convenient and portable multimedia guide. Visitors will also be able to access the application on their own mobile devices, whether on campus or offsite.
"The Clark is delighted to be recognized by IMLS with this grant," said Michael Conforti, director of the Clark. "We are grateful to IMLS for supporting this exciting new method of interpretation."
The IMLS is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. Its mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Its grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit imls.gov and follow IMLS on Facebook and Twitter.
The Clark is located at 225 South St. Galleries are closed to Sept. 20; Stone Hill Center galleries open Sept. 21. Admission is free year-round for Clark members, children 18 and younger, and students with valid ID. For more information: clarkart.edu, 413-458-2303.