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UMMA’s DialogTable


When 5,500 UM students poured into the new Museum during the four-hour student reopening event, one of the instant hits was the DialogTable. An interactive storytelling and social learning tool, which incorporates nearly every UMMA object on view in the Museum’s collections galleries and public spaces, the DialogTable is located in the extended-hours zone of the Frankel Wing, allowing lively engagement with UMMA’s collections well after the galleries are closed. It is perhaps the most dynamic of the physical manifestations of UMMA’s multiyear, grant-funded reinterpretation of its collections—which also includes new object labels for every work of art on view and narrative “backstories” of particular objects or group of objects throughout the Museum.

Developed in partnership with two well-known interactive firms—Kinecity in New York City and Night Kitchen in Philadelphia—the DialogTable is a camera-based interface with gesture-recognition software. Visitors standing at the 7 x 5-foot Table activate wide-ranging, multidisciplinary content—including movies, sound, and slideshows called “magnets”—designed to enhance and customize their experience of UMMA’s diverse collections. Images appear to float on the Table and visual, thematic, narrative, and intuitive connections are made among objects resulting in fresh perspectives and non-linear associations. Favorite objects may be pooled and strands frequently link up objects across the Table, highlighting another hallmark of the project—creating social opportunities around visual art.

To extend and enrich the DialogTable experience a dedicated web component was also developed with Night Kitchen. On the website you can browse or search for objects on the Table, tag (contribute keywords that categorize and link information for you and others to see), retrieve and research your pool of images, and submit story ideas for future multimedia content on the Table—another example of how the new UMMA is committed to visitor experiences that delight, challenge, and provoke. Get connected at

Stephanie Rieke
External Relations Manager and Senior Writer