App offers virtual visitor’s pass to Capital gallery

Chris Bournea
ThisWeek
Capital University is a private university in Bexley.

Like most cultural institutions around the world, Capital University’s Schumacher Gallery closed its doors to the public in March because of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Now a new app enables anyone who downloads it to view the gallery’s entire collection of more than 2,200 works, said David Gentilini, the Schumacher Gallery’s director.

“It’s been something I’ve been working on close to the past decade,” said Gentilini, a 1998 Capital alumnus. “I was thinking of a website, but the way technology has gone, an app seemed the way to go.”

Located on the top floor of the Blackmore Library, 2309 E. Main St. on Capital’s Bexley campus, the Schumacher Gallery usually is free to visitors during the academic year.

Accordingly, the Schumacher Gallery app is free and enables patrons to take a virtual tour of the gallery’s eight permanent collections: African, Asian, Inuit, Ohio, Graphics, Oceanic, Period Works and Photography.

The Schumacher is home to the largest display of traditional works of African art in Ohio and the most extensive collection of Intuit art in the Midwest – all of which may be viewed on the app, Gentilini said. He said he began working with Westerville-based technology company Red Minnow Interactive to develop the app months before the pandemic hit – without the knowledge that the app would become increasingly relevant.

“It was kind of nice that this (app) came out at the height of everything being closed,” he said. “At least there’s some access.”

In researching apps, Gentilini said, he found there are few that provide comprehensive access to a single institution’s entire collection.

“There’s nothing in the art world that has something like this,” he said. “The closest is the Cleveland Museum of Art.”

The Schumacher app enables patrons to view more works than are typically on display at any one time due to space constraints, said Steve Easley, Red Minnow’s chief technology officer. The app includes an audio tour with artists’ biographical information and the ability for patrons to “like” their favorite works and create their own galleries.

“The thing about the Schumacher Gallery is it’s kind of a hidden gem,” Easley said. “You’re going to see behind the scenes, things that aren’t even in the showroom. That’s the interesting twist.”

In mid-September, the gallery reopened to Capital staff members and students, and Gentilini said he is hopeful the general public eventually will be granted full access once again.

In January, in time for Capital’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Learning celebration, the Schumacher Gallery is scheduled to hold the exhibit “Memories of the Southern Civil Rights Movement,” featuring acclaimed photographer Danny Lyon’s images documenting the freedom struggle of the 1960s.

For now, the Schumacher Gallery app provides an all-access, digital visitor’s pass, Gentilini said.

“It’s much more of a museum than it is a gallery,” he said. “There’s a Rodin and a Warhol and a Lichtenstein and a Picasso. And that’s just outside my office.”

For more information about the Schumacher Gallery, go to capital.edu.

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