Special exhibit in Wilmington offers Italian art as seen through apps - Technical.ly Delaware

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Oct. 9, 2014 12:27 pm

Special exhibit in Wilmington offers Italian art as seen through apps

Paolo Russo helped to bring a new concept to Wilmington — where your story (and your smartphone) is part of the show.
Paolo Russo demonstrates how visitors can use the Aurasma app to connect to the artwork, digitally.

Paolo Russo demonstrates how visitors can use the Aurasma app to connect to the artwork, digitally.

(Photo by Melissa DiPento)

Paolo Russo’s work lives at the intersection of technology, innovation and art.

Russo, who calls Rome, Italy his home, frequently travels to Delaware for work. This is all part of his job as general secretary of Stati Generali dell’Innovazione, a nonprofit association that lobbies to promote Italy’s innovation.

For months, he has been working to bring an exhibition to Wilmington called “Treasures and Tales of Italy’s Art Recovery Team: Antiquities from the Guardia di Finanza,” an exhibit showcasing priceless “stolen” Etruscan and Greco-Roman art, artifacts and antiques from Italy.

An antiquities exhibit that allows visitors to share their own stories, through technology, for each item on display.

An opening reception was held Oct. 2 at the Grand Opera House in Wilmington. The exhibit will be on display until Dec. 21. Russo worked with various Italian governments, as well as local and state officials from Delaware to make the exhibition a reality.

This exhibit, Russo said, is unlike any you would see at a museum.

“Bringing it here is part of an experiment. It is really required to change the model of art exhibitions,” Russo said.

He calls the exhibit “a museater” (“museum” + “theater”).

Unlike a museum — which places prominence on the curator as the storyteller — a museater — and the definition he hopes to one day see for it — is an institution that cares for a collection of stories. Stories of scientific, artistic, cultural and historical importance, but stories nonetheless.

The institution’s goal is to help people experience these stories in a different way.

The key facet that is unique to the museater exhibit is the “bring your own story” concept. The Wilmington exhibit leverages technology to incorporate a different concept contrary to the traditional museum experience.

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Visitors, by using the augmented reality app Aurasma, can point their smartphones at a piece of artwork to interact with the artifact. Guests can add their own stories to the collection of ideas associated with each piece.

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“The idea is that tech-savvy and younger people can use their smartphone, while they’re moving around, looking for active targets,” Russo said. “The target activates and a world of stories opens up.”

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Russo said he believes this exhibit is one of the first of its kind, if not the first ever. Not only does it showcase rare marble statues, vases, bowls, mosaics and jewelry, but it also allows visitors to share their own stories, through technology, for each item on display. Russo said he hopes to bring more events that intersect art and technology in the future.

“If we can make it happen in a midsize town like Wilmington, we can make it happen anywhere,” Russo said. “This is the appetizer. We’re here to demonstrate that this can be done in Delaware.”

Russo said he hopes to continue to collaborate with tech-savvy people from the Wilmington community to bring future events to town. He wants to work with individuals from The Loft to come up with future solutions to bring the technology, innovation and art communities together.

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