When the CMA shut down on March 14th due to COVID, we quickly realized we were missing the artwork we were normally surrounded with at the museum, that was absent from our new work-from-home lifestyle. To do more than simply move the museum experience online; we wanted to think differently about what the future of museums and how online experiences make art matter. Our goal was to make innovative tools that would bring people closer to the collection and create a transformative experience online.
The app was conceived in response to the quick pivot to remote work for many that took place in March of 2020 due to the pandemic. For the CMA team, the concept hit home for us, as we were lacking our usual art-filled surroundings and feeling isolated from the rest of our team. More so, we had quickly realized how much we missed the informal conversations, serendipitous connections, and positive distractions that happen in our workplaces in-person. During a particularly stressful moment in time, we wanted the content shared in Slack to provide light-hearted, sensitive commentary to engage busy teams with a low barrier of entry into art.
ArtLens for Slack is driven by the concept of teamwork, and the importance of shared, casual interaction in building relationships and fostering connection in the workplace, even if there is no physical workplace. The app works by sending a new prompt every Monday-Friday, with a different theme or relevant topic each day. Every morning you get a prompt, select a multiple-choice option, and take a moment to pick an object, then comment on why you picked it. Add a funny observation, fun fact, or whatever else that might feel relevant. If today’s exhibition is “A World Without Zoom” the prompt reads: “’If Zoom were unavailable, what alternative method of communication would you use instead, “smoke signals,” a “messenger bird,” or writing old fashioned “letters“?”
Select “messenger bird” and the app shows you bird related works from across the collection. Maybe a ceramic pigeon or an etching of a hawk. Select an artwork by clicking “I like it,” or shuffle to see more options related to the term. Then write a quick comment in response to the artwork.
At five o’clock, the app notifies you with an announcement of your company’s exhibition opening. Head over to your shared channel to peruse the entire team’s selections. The exhibition is announced, then, users scroll down to see and react to the artworks and comments from the entire team, wrapping up with a farewell from the CMA. Additionally, any artwork you see has a direct link to the Collection Online, allowing users to explore the depth of content available online for each artwork they come across.
More examples of exhibitions and prompts: