Creating an art gif in the museum

Natalie Tsvirko

Goldfinch flying from still life to children begging

Has this ever happen to you while visiting a museum or an exhibition?…

Remember that moment when you are so fascinated by an artwork by a great master that it almost revives in your imagination? Your mind creates that situation and that atmosphere around the artwork that is very personal and inspiring. It simulates the moment before and after and, as a result, it completes its story. After this intense and intimate interaction between person and artwork happens, the masterpiece stays in your memory forever because of the emotional impact that it causes you.

Leopoldo Metlicovitz, La Sera, 1892

Modern technologies allow us to play and simulate this personal experience. It helps us attract those people who were not interested in art. It offers the possibility to look at the artwork from a new perspective. Actually, nowadays a certain trend has emerged and can be observed in exhibition design along with exhibition promotion strategies. There are many examples where the artwork is “revived” so the visitors are getting an entertainment experience without leaving aside the classical perception of the artwork. Some of these technological experiments have become extremely successful and big, in fact, they turned into a concept. A clear example of this is the film Loving Vincent. Others are smaller, but not for that underestimated.

William L. Carqueville, Lippincott’s December, 1894

Francesc Masriera, Winter 1882, 1882

What is a GIF?

One of the simplest ways to generate this reality simulation is to use GIF animation. Acronym GIF stands for the Graphic Interchange Format. This format supports 8 bits per pixel at maximum and it allows to use up to 256 colours from the RGB palette. GIF format supports frame-by-frame animation as it allows the same palette and resolution for each created layer body. All of this allows to convert artworks into the looped animation with a minimal visual colour loss. This technology gives variable possibilities for creation and “reviving” the artworks.

Henri Meunier, Thé Rajah, 1897

The Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya collection is diverse. It covers almost every period in art history. These works inspire and motivate for experimentation. Still it is important to consider, in addition to the legal issues, the ethical aspect while creating GIF animation file: to keep the message, the atmosphere and the mood the master carried out while creating the artwork. Nevertheless, it’s an exciting and entertaining game and an experience to touch and “revive” selected works by great masters who have revealed little stories that we want to share with you.

Master of Taüll, Apse of Sant Climent de Taüll, circa 1123

We encourage you to make a GIF and send it to us!

Natalie Tsvirko

Related links

Zoom, clic… Gif!, video of the family activity
Family activity Bright Pantomimes
Gif it up
, GIF creation contest organized by Europeana
Museums’ GIFs , GIPHY
The Ultimate GIF Guide
15 Ways to Animate Your Content with GIFs
, Scott Abel, video, 60 min.


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