ArtLens Exhibition

Dive deeper, look closer, and engage with masterworks of art—intertwined with barrier-free interactives! 

ARTLENS Gallery: Create, Engage, Connect | The Cleveland Museum of Art


ArtLens Exhibition is an experiential gallery that puts you—the viewer—into conversation with masterpieces of art, encouraging engagement on a personal, emotional level. ArtLens Exhibition features a collection of 20 masterworks of art that will rotate every 18 months to provide new, fresh experiences for repeat visitors.The art selection and barrier-free digital interactives inspire you to approach the museum’s collection with greater curiosity, confidence, and understanding. Transitioning away from touchscreen technology, ArtLens Exhibition interactives use gesture-sensing projections that respond seamlessly to body movement and facial recognition as you approach, immersing you in the experience. There are 16 innovative games, centered on the following themes: Composition, Symbols, Gesture + Emotion, and Purpose. Each artwork in ArtLens Exhibition has two corresponding games in different themes, allowing you to dive deeper into understanding the object. ArtLens Exhibition opened to the public at the Solstice Party in June 2017.

In June 2019 ArtLens Exhibition reopened with a new display of 21 artworks from across the collection – from medieval to decorative arts to contemporary.

New features include:

  • Exploration of 3D artworks using photogrammetry, allowing you to zoom and manipulate gesture-based 3D projected models to see all angles of an artwork.
  • All artworks, including 3D objects, in the space are scannable using the “Scan” feature in the ArtLens App, allowing you to access even more interpretive content.
  • All artworks are centered on the theme “What Can Art Be?”, providing multiple entry points into thinking about and engaging with a diverse group of art objects.
  • The digital Beacon has been updated with a new video that showcases even more visitor-generated content from the ArtLens Exhibition games and introduces the over-arching theme, "What can art be?" to visitors

ArtLens Exhibition Artworks and Theme

Articulating a theme, or a framework that would shape the way we interpreted and presented the objects, was important for this installation. The broad question “What can art be?” provided us with multiple entry points into thinking about and engaging with such a diverse group of objects. In the exhibition we provide one answer, but because we believe there is more than one way to understand a work of art, we encourage visitors to consider their own reactions and ideas.

One unique aspect about ArtLens Exhibition is that it provides an opportunity to look at and consider connections across time and place. Each installation can create a dialogue among the artworks and the digital interactives.

ArtLens App

ArtLens App has been upgraded to tie together the ARTLENS Gallery experience. New in June 2019, ArtLens App can now scan 3D objects in ArtLens Exhibition, an exciting update that provides visitors with even more interpretive content. ArtLens App uses Bluetooth technology to connect to the museum’s iconic ArtLens Wall and all ArtLens Exhibition interactives. All artworks explored in ArtLens Exhibition gameplay save seamlessly to the “You” section of the App. Photos taken during ArtLens Exhibition gameplay save directly to a device's camera roll. ArtLens App includes a high-definition image and interpretive content about every artwork on display in the museum which is updated in real-time from our backend systems. After saving artworks in ArtLens Exhibition or at the ArtLens Wall, you can use the ArtLens App as your digital map around the museum.

ArtLens App contains interpretive content for every work of art on view at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Real-time updates ensure that users have access to the most accurate information available. The app is compatible with screen readers such as VoiceOver on iOS and Select to Speak and TalkBack on Android. Enable the service through your device’s settings, then follow the screen reader’s instructions to navigate through the app and to read information on all artwork pages.

While ARTLENS Gallery is temporarily closed, ArtLens techs will be stationed in the Atrium during the museum's open hours to answer any questions.

ArtLens Exhibition Audience and Goals

The ArtLens Exhibition welcomes non-traditional museum visitors by reducing the intimidation of the art museum and providing visitors the toolsets to look closer, dive deeper, and begin a relationship with the collection. Frequent museum visitors return again and again to ArtLens Exhibition to see and explore CMA's collection in a new way.

ArtLens Exhibition Artwork

ArtLens Exhibition is an experiential gallery that provides the opportunity to explore masterpieces of art, including works by Edmonia Lewis and Hans Steinbach, through immersive play.

ArtLens Exhibition Interactives

Transitioning away from traditional touchscreen technology, ArtLens Exhibition interactives respond seamlessly to body movement using barrier-free projections. The 6 projections feature 14 games, in addition to an innovative gaze-tracking station that uses eye-tracking technology to show where you look at an artwork, and a facial-recognition station that captures your emotional reactions to artwork. New in June 2019, visitors can explore gesture-based 3D-projected models of all 3D objects installed in the gallery. Digitally turn objects around to see all angles and make new discoveries! Each individual game can be replayed using hundreds of digitized objects from across the collection. Every projection-based interactive ends with the artwork’s ID, location, and actual size so visitors understand its scale—a feature often missing in digital experiences. All of ArtLens Exhibition’s digital experiences pull content from a unified backend platform composed of a collection catalogue management and digital asset management system. Along with custom-designed web tools, this backend system allows CMA to update the ArtLens Exhibition experience at any time by adding more content, artwork, and games.

Gesture + Emotion: Gestures and emotions may be the most identifiable elements in a work of art, but they can also be the most complex to decipher. The Gesture and Emotion experiences mirror your expressions, and empower you to alter works of art to understand how expression can change meaning.

  • Mashup: Visitors alter the emotion of a portrait by making a face, and witness how a change in expression can impact the meaning of an artwork.
  • Make a Face: Visitors are shown a portrait to interpret the figure’s emotion, then their facial expression is matched with another portrait. Visitors will appreciate how meaning is created through facial expression in an artwork.
  • Body Language: Visitors guess the different emotions expressed by figures in an artwork by mirroring the poses of each figure. By matching gesture with emotion, visitors realize the narrative of an artwork through the interaction between the figures.
  • Strike a Pose: Visitors are prompted to mirror the pose of a character in an artwork, in order to truly feel the physical exertion of the movement and pose. Visitors will better understand the emotions of the figure, as well as the contextual emotion of the artwork.

Symbols: The exploration of symbols necessitates an understanding of an artist’s secular, religious, and personal beliefs. These interactives provide satisfying and simple entry points into the complex world of encoded artworks.

  • Hidden Meaning: Visitors use body movement to uncover the meaning behind symbols in artworks, revealing how artists embed symbols in their artwork to represent non-concrete concepts.
  • Symbol Sleuth: Based on contextual clues, visitors guess which symbol represents a certain theme in a work of art. Visual and thematic clues in a work of art can help a visitor deduce a symbol’s meaning.
  • Decode Symbols: Visitors guess from a selection of symbols which symbol fits an area that has been blurred from the artwork. Visitors learn how symbols can transform the meaning of an artwork.

Purpose: Explore and learn about an object’s original purpose.

  • Purpose Discovery: Visitors decide how an unfamiliar object was once used by placing it on different parts of a mannequin. Through looking at an object closely, a visitor can deduce its use.
  • What Am I: Visitors guess the modern equivalent of an object from a range of options. The modern understanding of an object can differ from its contextual use.
  • Dress Me Up: A variety of wearable objects, from fashion statements and cultural wear to unfamiliar pieces, are on display for visitors to select and wear on their body. Visitors realize the functional purpose of unfamiliar objects.

Composition: The composition experience reveals the underlying structure that holds an artwork together. Fun, intuitive, full-body gestures and gaze-tracking games explore the concepts of geometry, all-over, and multiple focus compositions, and provide an entry point into the more nuanced pedagogy of image organization.

  • Shape Seeker: Visitors reveal geometric shapes in an artwork to decipher the compositional arrangement of elements. Visitors see how the structure of a shape gives meaning to a work of art through its dynamism, stability, symmetry or asymmetry.
  • View Finder: Visitors explore works of art from the museum’s collection to find areas of focus and points of emphasis. Visitors uncover how artworks with multiple focuses are composed of separately identifiable elements that work together to enhance meaning and understanding.
  • Become an Artist: Visitors create an original artwork based on the color, composition, or pattern of an artwork in the museum’s collection. By re-interpreting an artwork while maintaining its aesthetic integrity, visitors can better understand the composition of artworks with no central focal point.
  • Become an Artwork: Visitors generate a unique all-over composition through a snapshot of themselves and based on works in the museum’s collection. Visitors learn how works of art can be composed of rhythm, pattern, and repetition by using the palette of their own body and clothing.

Gaze Tracker

Gaze Tracker encourages visitors to explore the elements and artistic choices that impact the composition of an artwork. At Gaze Tracker, visitors sit in front of an ADA-compliant monitor, wait for the interactive to calibrate with their eyes, and look at an artwork from the CMA’s collection for 15 seconds. Innovative eye-tracking technology reveals accurately where a visitor focuses when looking at the work of art, increasing the visitor’s understanding of how an artist’s compositional choices influence how they look at art. On a large video projection viewable by other visitors and on the individual monitor, the interactive shows visitors the path their eyes took while observing the work of art, including what grabbed their attention first, what detail they viewed the longest, and what elements they ignored. At the end of the interactive, visitors can see an interpretation of the artist’s compositional intent as well as the artwork’s identification, gallery location, and aggregate results from other visitors.

Express Yourself

Express Yourself is a machine-learning interactive that uses facial-recognition software to identify visitors’ emotional responses to artwork from across the CMA’s collection. To begin the interactive, visitors position themselves three feet from one of two touchscreens—one of which is ADA compliant. Next, visitors react to a large sculpture by Frank Stella featured in ArtLens Exhibition, an object that evokes strong, diverse emotional reactions. The visitor’s preliminary reactions enable the facial-recognition software to calibrate and statistics show how their initial results compare with others stored by the interactive. Visitors are then asked to react to a variety of artworks from across the CMA’s collection for 30 seconds. As visitors view each individual artwork, their facial expressions are registered as happy, surprised, confused, distasteful, fearful, or sad. When the 30 seconds are up, visitors see all their emotional reactions associated with the artworks they viewed. They can then select any artwork to begin an engaging mission that encourages deeper looking while launching them into the museum galleries to locate the artwork. Visitors can dock their iOS or Android device at Express Yourself and missions will save directly to the “You” section of ArtLens App via Bluetooth technology. Additionally, the interactive captures a video that features the visitor’s emotional reactions and images of the artworks that saves directly to the device’s camera roll.

Backend System

The CMA established a standardized, well-documented development environment, including: a master application programming interface used for integrating all artwork, artist/creator, and location information, a common framework for defining and testing the content structure and staff workbenches needed to manage both existing and new interactives, a consolidated content delivery network platform for digital assets for all interactives (in ArtLens App, exhibitions, collections online, or any future interactive) for ease of management and troubleshooting, and a single method for connecting interactives to user devices for favorites and saving of user-generated content. The CMA’s custom-built catalog management system pulls live content, writes it once, and then updates it everywhere, making any artwork information or interpretive content updated by the curatorial, registrar, or interpretation departments immediately accessible in all digital interactives. 


ARTLENS is funded by The Char and Chuck Fowler Family Foundation.