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Bologna museum tech measures how much guests appreciate works of art

ENEA, an Italian research and development agency, has developed a system to keep track of how people look at paintings at a Bologna museum.

art appreciation technology bologna museum

ENEA’s ShareArt project was installed at Istituzione Bologna Musei to monitor guests’ appreciation of artworks using artificial intelligence (AI) and big data applications.

The innovative system can ‘measure’ how much guests appreciate a work of art by sharing information obtained by recording and monitoring facial expressions through a big data application.

ENEA experts Stefano Ferriani, Giuseppe Marghella, Simonetta Pagnutti and Riccardo Scipinotti said the system “automatically detects faces looking towards the artwork” via a camera positioned close to the painting or sculpture.

ShareArt project at Istituzione Bologna Musei

They said the system acquires data on the behaviour of observers, including “the path taken to approach, the number of observers, the time and distance of observation, the gender, age, class and mood of the observers”

The ShareArt system includes a series of data acquisition devices that are equipped with a camera to collect information and share it with a central storage and processing server.

ShareArt can also be used to improve safety within museums by verifying the correct use of masks and social distancing, activating a visual signal to remind visitors to comply with the rules.

System uses big data applications and AI

“There are questions that resonate within the walls of a museum. What is art appreciation? What are the variables that might affect it? Traditional answers are unsufficient,” said Roberto Grandi, president of Istituzione Bologna Musei.

“The way visitors observe, how they get to the artwork and how long they observe it help museum curators better understand visitors’ behaviours and researchers have a deeper knowledge of the dynamics of perception of appreciation by collecting and processing a large amount of data.”

“It is a fascinating journey and we are pleased to make it with a scientific institution of excellence like ENEA,” Grandi added.

Images: ENEA

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Bea Mitchell

Bea is a journalist specialising in entertainment, attractions and tech with 10 years' experience. She has written and edited for publications including CNET, BuzzFeed, Digital Spy, Evening Standard and BBC. Bea graduated from King's College London and has an MA in journalism.

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