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Museums are on the verge of their highest-ever attendances, as technology is changing the way that visitors consume art.

A number of new devices are being added, such as symbol decoding software, eye-tracking devices designed to track gaze, and iPad-guided gallery tours.

The American Alliance of Museums claims that U.S. cultural institutions see approximately 850 million visits each and every year – a figure that presides over the majority of sporting events. The statistics may yet grow further, as museums integrate more technological features throughout their buildings amid a plethora of mobile applications and other technological advances designed to improve the visitor experience.

Art and technology: an ideal match, after all

While many traditionalists may not be so quick to accept the unusual combination of Van Gogh and virtual reality, numerous museums have realized an interesting fact: technology isn’t standing in the way of art appreciation.

Museum attendance has, in fact, increased significantly since computers and iPads were introduced to the field of art, according to experts. The technology enables visitors to see art in a completely new way, while allowing exhibits to be on display that may otherwise have never seen the light of day in the institution.

Art lovers opt for museums over social media

While it may be tempting to assume that museums will become extinct as art lovers have the option of simply scrolling Instagram, that is unlikely to happen due to a preference of the physical experiences that make consuming art more memorable. That is according to Carter Cleveland, CEO and founder of Artsy.

Technology and the virtual world are becoming increasingly prevalent, however. We see it in our working lives, for example, with more and more companies enabling their employers to work from a virtual office at home. Gaming is another example, where gamers enjoy living out their fantasies by playing games, such as shoot ’em ups, like CS: GO. It’s become such a phenomenon that web browsers can even buy their favorite case online, an option which would appear far more reasonably priced than the £47,000 in-app purchase of the ‘diamond chisel, to be used in ‘Curiosity – What’s inside the Cube?’.

Cleveland art museum showcases high-end technology

The Cleveland Museum of Art houses the ArtLens Gallery, which integrates such high-tech features as facial recognition, motion detection, and eye-tracking.

Through an application, visitors are able to create their own tour, favorite the exhibits they like, and even touch art.

Spaces such as the Gesture and Exhibition exhibit enable visitors to mimic poses of figures in paintings, while a gaze tracker reveals where visitors focus their eyes when viewing a work of art.

Credit: WestportWiki

New York’s Met Museum sets attendance records

Although the Cleveland Museum exhibit is relatively new, even some of the more iconic museums are exploring technology, with a positive response, to boot. At New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, attendance is at an all-time high with 6.7 million visitors for the year ending June 30, 2016.

The Met only recently digitized over 380,000 images from its collection, which essentially made them downloadable on any computer in the world. The result was far more than the ability to consume online and more interest in museums than ever before.

For those who lack the funds to visit a museum, technology isn’t limited to cool gadgets. It can also integrate museums into the wider community. Through iPads, it integrates art with videos in cab rides or public parks, to those who don’t have either the time or money to visit a museum.

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