Milanese Art Gallery Attracts Young People via RFID

Milan-Ambrosiana-Art-Gallery-NFC-RFID-blogThe Ambrosiana Art Gallery in Milan is one of the best Italian museums, possessing over 1,400 sketches, drawings and masterpieces created by Leonardo da Vinci as well as other renowned Italian artists. Traditionally, visitors looking to learn about the exhibits had to read small placards describing the work, or listen to audio players via a headset.

However, since this October, the museum has deployed RFID technology and provided guests RFID-enabled smartphones to learn about each work of art. Guests can also utilize the smartphones to save a list of pieces they like, for use at the museum’s store when seeking prints for sale.

NFC/RFID tags are attached to the gallery’s walls on which pieces of art are mounted, with an ID number on each tag linked to data regarding a particular item. The data is stored in the gallery’s back-end system. The museum has installed 55 passive 13.56 MHz tags for its main pieces of art, including those by da Vinci, Raphael, Caravaggio, Botticelli and Titian. In addition, Samsung donated its Galaxy S3 mobile phones to the museum for use in reading the tags.

When a visitor holds the phone next to one of the 55 NFC tags, the phone reads its ID number, thereby triggering a display of data on the phone’s screen, including information about the artist, his life, how that work ended up at the gallery, techniques used to create it and pictures of the artist. This information can be presented in either Italian or English.

In the future, the museum reports, visitors will be able to use their own NFC-enabled phones to read the tags and thereby access artwork-related information. Yet they must first download an application from the Samsung Apps Web site, though that app is not yet available.

The system is intended to especially capture the interest of young people, who are less apt to frequent an art gallery. Since the tags were installed, “We noted young students get benefit and seem more interested in the art and the life of artists” when the information is presented to them via their phones.