At Large  April 3, 2020  Chandra Noyes

Hastings Contemporary Offering Robot Tours

Will Barrett/Hastings Contemporary

The Double robot with Edward Burra's War in the Sun, 1938 (watercolor on paper, © Estate of the Artist, c/o Lefevre Fine Art Ltd., London. Artwork courtesy Daniel Katz Gallery).

Hastings Contemporary, a small museum in the south of England, is debuting a new, interactive way to virtually tour their currently closed galleries.
 
With the help of a two-wheeled robot named the Double, up to five people can ride along with the videoconferencing bot as it peruses the galleries. One participant guides the robot from home, and the whole group can join in a conversation about what they find on view.

Will Barrett/Hastings Contemporary

The Double robot with Graham Sutherland's Thorn Head, 1947 (oil on canvas © Estate of the Artist. Artwork courtesy Daniel Katz Gallery.)

The Double was developed through a partnership between the museum, the Bristol Robotics Lab, and two disability rights organizations, the D4D project, and Accentuate UK. The project began with the goal of giving those with limited or no mobility access to the museum’s modern and contemporary art galleries, as well as their beautiful views of the English Channel.
 
For a variety of reasons, many people around the world are confined to their homes with limited access to food, healthcare, and the little joys we often take for granted, like strolling through a museum. With much of the world now on lockdown in their homes to stop the spread of the coronavirus, the daily struggles of these people are becoming more relatable to others. Though many of us are privileged to not have previously experienced such dramatic social distancing before, living with a disability is often an isolating experience, new technologies like this one are taking strides towards alleviating that.

Visitors can now book a tour with the Double online and will enjoy having the empty galleries of the Hastings Contemporary to themselves. The two exhibitions currently on view offer much for visitors to ponder. Anne Ryan: Earthly Delites presents the contemporary artist’s colorful figurative paintings of bodies in motion. The Age of Turmoil: Burra, Spencer, Sutherland shows three modern British artists reacting to the uncertain and changing times of the World War II era.

About the Author

Chandra Noyes

Chandra Noyes is Managing Editor for Art & Object.

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