Too Much Technology Can Spoil Your Warhol Experience

May 17, 2016

Original Article Published on


Looking at art is the core museum experience. I remember, when I was a kid, seeing Van Gogh’s Starry Night for the first time. I stood for what seemed like hours, staring at the thick paint and swirling colors in a quiet gallery at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

But San Francisco is not just any city. “Silicon Valley, San Francisco, is a place of innovation, and so we feel quite a strong pressure to play a role in that in the museum space,” says Keir Winesmith, head of Web and digital platforms at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

The museum reopened this weekend after a three-year closure to build an addition. Its expanded collection includes works by modern icons such as Andy Warhol, Mark Rothko and Richard Serra, and some new interactive technology. And like a growing number of museums, the San Francisco MOMA hopes the new tech doesn’t get in the way of looking at the art.

Winesmith gave me a walk-through of new technological features in this museum in the heart of downtown San Francisco. Most of the experiences are outside of the galleries — interactive touch screens to tell you more about what you just saw.

Within the galleries themselves, how much tech to use has been an ongoing question, Winesmith says.