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An art museum uses technology to lure young patrons

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Tony Dejak/AP/File

(Read caption) The untitled sculpture by Anthony Gormley is shown during an exhibition called "The Last Days of Pompeii: Decadence, Apocalypse, Resurrection" at The Cleveland Museum of Art in Cleveland through July 7, 2013.

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As cultural institutions across the country struggle to attract young visitors, the Cleveland Museum of Art is embracing cutting-edge technology to try to lure new audiences to its collection of masterworks.

In the museum’s new Gallery One, visitors can try to match the expressions of faces in a painting or strike the pose of a sculpture in the collection and then share photographs of the results via social media. Display screens paired with original works of art show people how the pieces were made and where they come from.

The goal is to make the museum more welcoming, especially to young people who “mediate the world through the screen,” says David Franklin, director of the museum.

“The outcome is intergenerational,” he says. “But one of the inspirations was certainly trying to attract a younger demographic to the art museum, a demographic that might see the museum as off-putting or forbidding.”

The Collection Wall, a 40-foot touchscreen, features images of artworks grouped by theme, time period, and materials used, acting as a bridge between the interactive gallery and the rest of the museum. Visitors can create their own tours by saving their favorite pieces from the wall to an iPad, either their own or one borrowed from the museum.

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