The National Gallery Has Designed an Exhibition Exclusively for Mobile Phones

Historically, museums around the world have been very slow to adapt to the fact that smartphone use and posting has become ubiquitous.

‘The Adoration of the Kings’ by Jan Gossaert (1510-15). Photo12/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

During the pandemic, the sensation of wandering through a museum exhibition has been postponed for many months and has only recently begun to return. In the interim, many enthusiasts stuck at home have turned to online exhibitions and online auctions to pass the time, but for the most part, everyone who’s been quarantining can tell you they’ve mostly been glued to their phones, endlessly scrolling. Thus, it’s encouraging that the National Gallery in London has decided to launch its first exhibition designed exclusively for mobile phones; the exhibition will focus on Jan Gossaert’s The Adoration of the Kings, which recounts the story of the birth of Jesus.

The exhibition centering The Adoration of the Kings will allow viewers to zoom in on the details of the artwork, which is lushly populated with robed figures, dogs and hovering angels. The exhibition will also include six poems written in the voice of king Balthasar by the poet Theresa Lola.

“Our aim through the innovation program is to create enjoyable, meaningful experiences which engage new and more diverse audiences with the collection in different ways, placing our visitors at the heart of the design process,” Emma McFarland, who leads the National Gallery’s innovation program, told the Guardian.

Museums have been quite slow to adapt to the fact that visitors love taking photos and posting them on social media. In around 2011, the Metropolitan Museum of Art finally stopped telling visitors not to use their cell phones on the premises. Since then, museums have developed robust social media platforms in order to compete with one another for digital eyeballs. The National Gallery’s cell phone exhibition was created via the institution’s innovation program, and it marks a wholehearted embrace around how people are truly engaging with art these days.

The National Gallery Has Designed an Exhibition Exclusively for Mobile Phones