Rome's historic museums go modern by offering information directly to smart phone

December 13, 2011. The oldest public museums in the world are also some of the most modern. Rome's Capitoline Museums are right in the center of the city. Now they're using a high tech system to explain the history behind some of their 300 art pieces. The system is called “Near Field Communication.” It's an modern program that works with a smart phone.

Antonio Bosio
Director “Product & Solution”, SAMSUNG (Italy)

“The Capitoline Museums have placed a plastic apparatus, which technically is called a “tag” next to each piece of artwork. The tag has an antenna that can connect to a cell phone and then pass on information, very easily, through a website.”

By just placing one's smart phone next to each “tag” one can instantly read about the history of each art piece, directly from their cell phone. Those without a smart phone can still enjoy the high tech experience by borrowing one of the Museum's 200 cell phones.

The tag next to some of the most popular pieces like “The Wolf of Rome,” provides several links, so users can understand its complete history.

Employees are also hoping, the new system will prevent large groups of people from blocking the art pieces. It's something that often happens when  people hover over the sculptures or paintings to read its description.

Dino Gasperini
Council of Culture (Rome)

“Anyone can freely wander around the museum without having to follow a guide, or see a video. With the new system, visitors don't have to wait to read about the piece's history.”

The Museum officially used the new system with  a sculpture called “The Athlete.” The bronze sculpture was lent to Rome by Texas' Museum of Art. The collection was originally from an Italian who immigrated to the U.S in the 18th century. As part of the exchange, Italy lent one of Caravaggio's art pieces.

Claudio Parisi
Director, Museums of Rome

“The piece deals with an athlete who is taking part in a competition where physical strength is especially important. He was probably involved in an Olympic game competition. We can recognize the type of run he took part in from his strong and muscular shoulders. Those are all conserved in another replica that includes the rest of the body.”

Just a few examples of how after 540 years, the Capitoline Museums are still innovative, dynamic and modern.

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