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Art Gallery receives grant from state council

Published: Thursday, October 4, 2012

Updated: Thursday, October 4, 2012 08:10


Nick Pfosi / The Tufts Daily

The Massachusetts Cultural Council last month gave the Tufts Art Gallery a $2,500 grant, which will fund the Gallery’s project to build a smart phone application.


The Tufts University Art Gallery late last month received a grant of $2,500 from the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) for the development of a mobile application that will take smart phone users on a tour of art installations around the Medford/Somerville campus. 

The tour will likely include pieces such as the garden on the Tisch Library roof, the mural by the lower patio of the Mayer Campus Center and the Colossal AcornHead sculpture between Tisch and the Campus Center, according to Director of Galleries and Collections at the Art Gallery Amy Schlegel.

“We want this to be really dynamic,” Schlegel said.

Although the app is currently in production, the Gallery hopes to make it available to the public by May 2013, she said. 

To gauge student interest in the resource, the gallery in November will release a student survey through the Office of Institutional Research and Evaluation, according to Schlegel. The survey will also help the Gallery decide which works to include and whether to develop the app for iPhones or Androids, she added.

Students will be the target users of the app, Schlegel said, but she hopes campus visitors will utilize the app as well. 

“The Art Gallery is more than just a resource for the university but for the community,” Gregory Liakos, MCC communications director, told the Daily. “I think it’s very worthy of public funding.”

The grant for the app will be automatically renewed next year, providing the gallery with another $2,500, Liakos said. 

Phillippa Pitts, a student in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and a curatorial assistant at the Gallery, will develop the app drawing from her previous experience building mobile tours for museums. She hopes to design the app so that Gallery staff members can easily update its content without a background in technology. 

Pitts believes that mobile technology can increase accessibility to art, allowing users to choose what they want to learn more about.

“If you’re using technology, suddenly it becomes so much more possible just to have more options,” she said.

The Gallery is also contemplating adding Quick Response (QR) codes to some of its pieces around campus so that members of the Tufts community can scan the codes with smart phones to learn more about the works, according to Schlegel.

“We’ve really been assessing how we can integrate technology more [into the Gallery],” Schlegel said.

The Art Gallery applied for the grant last winter, Schlegel said, noting that they have received regular grants from the MCC since 2001. 

“The grants are quite small,” Schlegel said. “That’s really the story for the arts in general. For this particular project, it’s enough.” 

Ninety percent of the MCC budget comes from an appropriation from the Massachusetts state government and the remaining 10 percent comes from the National Endowment for the Arts, according to Liakos.

The Medford Arts Council, a local arts organization, received a $15,440 grant from the MCC this year as well, according to Liakos.

“[The grants] exist so that we can help our nonprofit cultural organizations fulfill their mission and deliver public programs that benefit our communities,” he said.

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