The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston has some of the finest examples of Song Dynasty handscroll paintings in the world. Fragile and up to 50 feet in length, these masterworks can only be displayed in small sections at a time. We partnered with the museum team to finally present these works of art in the way their makers intended.
Our goal was not to replace but to enhance the experience of viewing the real paintings. Chinese handscrolls are designed to be viewed from right to left, one section at a time. The Chinese Handscroll Paintings interactive enables visitors to scroll through each painting in exactly this way, watching the narrative unfold fluidly. As they scroll, visitors can pause on a section, zoom in on details, and select highlights that reveal interpretation.
Installed together, the interactive informs visitors’ observation and appreciation of the real paintings. An informal evaluation of the activity found that visitors who used the interactive spent three times as long with the actual painting as visitors who did not!
Chinese Handscroll Paintings presents six masterworks in their entirety, on view in the gallery one at a time. This comprehensive and intimate access is often available only to a small number of curators and scholars. (Photo © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)