Coding the Gallery

In my experience, I have only used QR codes a couple times before. I never took the time to understand how they are made or why they are beneficial to both the creator and the reader. Working on this project showed me how not only simple and easy they are, but how valuable they are as a technological teaching method.

QR, or Quick Response codes, are two-dimensional barcodes that can be read using smart phones, tables, laptops, and dedicated QR reading devices. They link directly to articles, emails, websites, phone numbers, videos, social media, pages and more. All you need is a built-in camera lens on your device and a QR code scanning program which can be downloaded online for free as an app. QR code reader websites such as beetagg.com, mobile-barcodes.com, kaywa.com or goqr.me also give you the possibility to generate your own QR codes for free, which is quick and easy.

In this case, the Art, Design & Architecture Museum uses the QR code to send the reader to a URL page, specifically, the AD&A Museum’s website. Here the reader or viewer can learn more about the selected piece displayed in the Museum. This allows them to connect to that piece in an even greater way by enhancing the viewers’ learning experience. The kind of topics that might be addressed using a QR code would be anything the artist, designer, or Museum would like to include. This can be anything from a video interview, to a full artist profile, or a fun fact, to an “the making of” image series, or an extended label of the piece. It can suggest questions to think about while viewing the work, or maybe it is background music for viewing and listening pleasure.There are many possibilities.

Using this technology makes it simple and efficient. Its effectiveness depends on how tech savvy the viewer is. By opening these links in their devices, the viewers can then save the links and share them with others. Sending the QR code links to friends, family, coworkers, or anyone on social media websites will spread the content and awareness of the AD&A Museum’s exhibitions outside the Museum and even further than the University of California Santa Barbara campus.

The Museum is currently working on using QR codes with the Bollywood 101: The Visual Culture of Bollywood Film Posters exhibition. This project is how I learned about QR codes, their capabilities, and their value. I also learned how to create these codes, which allowed me to write an instruction sheet to teach and share with other people within the AD&A Museum on how to create and read them as well. As we move forward in the age of technology, I think it is beneficial for people to learn about QR codes, apply them, read them, and share what they have received from them. I for one will continue to create QR codes, and it pretty much goes without saying that anytime I see one, I will be sure to scan it.

Bollywood 101: The Visual Culture of Bollywood Film Posters opens September 12, 2014! Click here for more information.

-Marybeth Forteza, Exhibition Design Intern

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