A Miniature Masterpiece

An interactive examination of Jan Van Eyck’s tiny painting at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

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Interactive, Touchscreen, Development, Design, Animation,

Jan Van Eyck (c. 1395 – 1441) was one of the most renowned painters of the Northern Renaissance. Marked by Van Eyck’s signature depiction of everyday life in microscopic detail, Saint Francis of Assisi Receiving the Stigmata exemplifies the height of the artist’s talent.

From Saint Francis’ freshly wounded feet, to the white apron on the woman standing on the distant shore, no detail is insignificant in this 5” x 5” painting. At this tiny scale, however, the painting’s awe-inspiring detail is often overlooked by museum visitors.

This new interactive encourages museum visitors to explore the work’s breathtaking details with unprecedented closeness. While standing in front of the artwork, visitors can use the interactive to zoom into a magnified image of the painting and investigate intricate details. Additionally, the interactive allows viewers to dig deeper through supplementary content. Artistically-inclined visitors can learn about the paint and surface materials, 

This installation is the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s first-ever touch screen interactive for a permanent collection piece. In addition to its visitor-facing functionality, the interactive provides museum staff with valuable metrics. Bluecadet built a tracking system that records how many visitors use the interactive, how long users spend with the screen, and what content is most popular. These valuable insights will be used to inform curatorial processes going forward.

Before the interactive was installed, visitors spent an average of 3-12 seconds viewing the painting. With the interactive in the gallery, visitors now spend an average of 2.3 minutes with the interactive, and a total of 5 minutes engaged with the painting and interactive combined.

Bluecadet’s new interactive has brought new life to the gallery that houses Saint Francis. Visitors are becoming more engaged–not only with the painting, but also with one another. The gallery has become a space in the museum where people stop and talk to one another, forging a shared experience around this previously overlooked work of art.

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