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Atlanta Museum’s ‘Dating’ App Matches Visitors With Artwork

The High Museum of Art creates tour routes based on users’ likes

The app presents users with 100 works of art drawn from the museum's collection of more than 15,000 artifacts (Courtesy of Heartmatch/the High Museum of Art)
smithsonian.com

Atlanta’s High Museum of Art houses a permanent collection of more than 15,000 works, catering to a wide variety of artistic tastes. The collection includes, for example, Italian painter Giovanni Bellini’s “Madonna and Child,” Impressionist Claude Monet’s “Houses of Parliament in the Fog” and Mark Rothko’s color-field painting “No. 73.” Among them, is Bellini the biggest draw? Or is Monet more your style? Perhaps Rothko is the must-see.

Heartmatch, a new app developed by the Shannon Landing Amos head of museum interpretation Julia Forbes, manager of web and new media Ivey Rucket and their colleagues at the High, is taking inspiration from the Tinder-esque matching method and bringing it to the art world.

As Forbes and Rucket explain for the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), to use the museum’s app, simply visit the website and start browsing through presented paintings, sculptures and installations. Similar to Tinder and other popular dating apps, a swipe right means a user “likes” a specified work of art, while a swipe left indicates “dislike”—or, in this case, “nope.” Once you’ve finished assessing several of the options (according to the AAM article, the app presents a total of 100 items from the High’s collection), the app creates a personalized tour route through the museum’s three wings.

The idea is to help guide visitors, who may be overwhelmed by the sheer number of artifacts on view. Heartmatch works by highlighting the galleries in which liked artworks reside, noting how many of them are housed in the Stent Family Wing, the Wieland Pavilion and the Anne Cox Chambers Wing, respectively.

If, for example, one swipes right on Lucas Cranach the Elder’s “Portrait of Duke Henry the Devout of Saxony,” Nicolas Tournier’s “The Denial of St. Peter” and Jan Brueghel the Elder’s “Holy Family with a Garland of Flowers,” they will see that all three are housed in gallery 204. Meanwhile, Ettore Sottsass Jr.’s “Room Divider” and Joris Laarman’s “Bone Armchair” are across the way in gallery 420. If you keep scrolling, you’ll see a comprehensive breakdown of exactly where each match is located (you can click “Email Map” to send a copy of the guide to yourself or others in your party).

While Heartmatch currently only points users toward artwork they’ve already swiped on, a future update featuring more advanced matching and search functions—perhaps including artwork profiles linked to corresponding online catalogue entries and offering related suggestions from the collection—would represent a welcome addition to the app

As Forbes and Rucket explain for AAM, the High Museum team had three goals in mind when creating Heartmatch: highlighting the collection’s diversity, directing on-site visitors to works they liked online and collecting data on visitors’ tastes.

“The most popular works could be used in marketing materials,” the pair notes, “and the least popular works could be used in our educational programming, so we could turn ‘swipe lefts’ into ‘swipe rights.’”

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