The David Owsley Museum of Art now has a new, free tool for museum visitors to use in the galleries. The Infinite Museum project, led by Dr. Timothy Berg and created by Ball State students, was unveiled to the public last week. Dr. Berg and fourteen students of differing educational backgrounds along with members of the Ball State Digital Corps worked together for the past several months to create this tool. The project was run through the Virginia Ball Center as an Immersive Learning Class.

During their event on Monday, December 8th, members of the group gave presentations and tours demonstrating the application and how it may be used to enhance visitors’ museum experiences.

Mark Neely (right) with his daughter, responding to prompts using their smart-phone to connect to the web app.

Note: To view what people in each photograph would have seen on their tablets and smartphones, click on the associated image.

Cooper Cox and Anna Wiegand (left).

The first demonstration of the night was given by Cooper Cox and Anna Wiegand in the Dorothy J. and Richard W. Burkhardt Gallery. Cooper brought a tablet to show the visitors what will appear when they search for certain works in the museum and showed off some of the prompts and activities. Behind the two of them is the painting Marquise de Caumont La Force by François Hubert Drouais. One of the prompts, for example, says “Envision a prom date for the marquise. What is the theme of the prom they are attending?” Visitors can respond to the prompts on the webpage or discuss the question with friends and family for a fun social experience.

Melinda Staup and Rachel Podnar.

Another presentation, by Melinda Staup and Rachel Podnar in the Ball Brothers Foundation Gallery, considered the painting Henry V Courting Princess Catherine of Valois. The prompt is titled “Striking Out” and reads: “Princess Catherine seems completely bored with Henry. Give him a better pickup line.” This prompt is currently the most popular on the site with comical responses such as: “I lost my phone number. Could I have yours?”

This family is using the site to view a prompt written for Still Life with Watermelon and Grapes by Raphaelle Peale. The prompt titled “Write a haiku about a watermelon” gives this example:

“Don’t imitate me;
it’s as boring
as the two halves of a melon.”
-Matsuo Basho, poet

The boy here is writing a haiku of his own, counting out the syllables on his fingers.

The Infinite Museum web application is a fun tool for children and adults to explore, think about, and interact with the artworks in new ways. Using the app is simple: go to The Infinite Museum website from a smart-phone, tablet, or computer and create an account or browse as a guest. Save your favorite prompts, respond with your own ideas, quickly scroll through works, and even submit your own prompts to potentially be used on the site. Not only will this be a powerful new tool for visitors, docents and teachers have much to gain by using this as a teaching resource.