Museum’s Art Conversations Takes Audio Tours to a New Level

Why is it so rare that the bronze statue of Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius survived intact to the present day? What do the paintings inside the coffin of Nesykhonsu reveal about Egyptian life? And, what can you learn about cultural beauty standards by examining the Ejagham headdress in the museum’s African collection?

These mysteries and others can be explored in the museum’s new audio tour, which premiered with the re-opening this summer of our first-level 1916 galleries. The tour provides a new way to experience the museum’s ancient, medieval, and African collections.

This unique tour is available on audio players in the galleries at no cost.

How is it different?
Based on visitor feedback and research from the original 1916 gallery re-openings, the museum decided to expand its audio tours to include the permanent collection, rather than just ticketed exhibitions.

The first installment of the tour, Art Conversations, features a variety of voices from within the museum, art world, and local Cleveland community.

Because some of the objects within these collections can seem far removed from modern lives, the tour focuses on making connections between the past and present and on how objects can be viewed differently by various people.

“Before, audio tours were more about standard museum interpretations,” says Caroline Goeser, department director for interpretation. “With this new tour, we wanted people to feel more connected to the works they are learning about in the galleries.”

What will listeners hear?
One particular piece that boasts interesting commentary is the Byzantine processional cross. In addition to hearing about the history of the piece from an art perspective, listeners will also learn how processional crosses are still used today. Both a former priest and parishioner from the Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Cleveland provide perspectives on processional crosses and what they mean within the church.

Other guest voices in the audio tour include local artists, scholars from institutions around the world, and curators from the museum. Music and video add context for some artworks.

What’s up next for audio tours?
This fall, visitors will be able to access the tours through a mobile link on smart phones, providing an option for them to listen to the audio tour via their own devices. Eventually, content for the audio tour will be expanded to cover the entire museum.

You also can listen to the audio tour on the museum’s web site to learn more about a variety of objects from our Greek, Roman, Near East, Egyptian, medieval, and African collections. Preview the tour from the comfort of your own home, and then enjoy an insider’s perspective the next time you visit the new galleries.

Image: Fragment of a Processional Cross, about 1050. Byzantine, Constantinople. Silver gilt, niello; 32.3 x 44.8 x 5.7 cm. Leonard C. Hanna Jr. Fund 1970.36


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