A mobile application to enrich a learning experience.
School of Education professors Aroutis Foster and Jen Katz-Buonincontro are creating an interactive, mobile-based experience for visitors of the galleries at the Barnes Foundation, funded by a $245,000 grant from the Barnes with matching funds from the Office of the Dean. The project, “ArtSee Artists,” will enrich the learning experience of children ages seven to 12 with a mobile application as they visit the galleries.
Dr. Albert C. Barnes made a living in pharmaceutical development and chemistry in the early 1900s. He collected art, and amassed a diverse collection from the world’s renowned artists. Barnes displayed his extensive personal collection in an innovative way: he grouped pieces together to create “ensembles.” The pieces in the ensemble shared at least one or more common elements of line, color, shape, light and space. He arranged the works of art in this manner because he wanted to challenge the way people perceived art to deepen their understanding on a personal level. His goal was to make art more accessible, approachable, and relatable to the user experience.
“Dr. Barnes’s concept goes beyond a traditional art historical approach to what the user sees,” Katz-Buonincontro says. “The perception is based on a visceral response that connects the viewer to the piece of artwork.”
The Barnes Foundation wanted to bring the interactive experience that serves as the basis of Barnes’s legacy to current museum visitors. They reached out to Foster, a noted expert on game-based learning systems, and Katz-Buonincontro, who has a master’s degree in visual art and a doctorate in educational leadership, and has taught art to students of all ages. The duo is creating a mobile-based app for the Barnes, located on Philadelphia’s historic Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The app will take the user through the museum’s galleries, and allow the user to create new ensembles from existing pieces in the collection based on the principles Barnes emphasized. The app will then have social media capability so that other users can view newly curated collections, rank them on creativity, and comment on them, making it an interactive experience. The app will available for free download when it launches.
Foster is a specialist in game-based learning and will be focusing on the development of the app. Katz-Buonincontro will focus on the art education aspect of the project.
“The app will engage children in the artwork of the Barnes Foundation, and it will encourage them to explore their own creativity, interact with other users about the art collection, and strengthen problem-solving skills,” says Foster.