Last weekend, I visited the National Gallery in Ottawa to see an exhibit featuring Impressionist paintings by artists such as Camille Pissarro, Alfred Sisley, and Renoir.

It was impressive but there was a key element missing: storytelling. There was little information about these artists that put things into historical context.

storytellingYou have to remember the Impressionists were disruptive. They were revolutionaries. In the late-1800s, they were creating art that hadn’t been done before. They were making up their own their own rules. Heck, they were breaking the rules.

Their impact on the art world and society was significant but the gallery’s exhibit had no stories that provided context and information or engaged people about what was it like to be these artists.

What, for example, were their lives like? Vincent Van Gogh, for example, barely sold any paintings during his lifetime. It was only afterward that his paintings became super valuable. It’s easy to understand why there’s a curiosity about what was it like to live in the 1800s and to paint like they did.

It would have instructive and educational if the National Art Gallery embraced digital technology and social media so you could interact with the art, learn about the artists, and see what it was like to live and work in the 19th century.

I wanted to learn about the techniques they used to create their paintings. Each artist had a particular style but when you look at their paintings that only featured a short description, it’s difficult to appreciate their work. Unless you’re an art lover or you’ve done a lot of reading, it is hard to know what was involved and how they did what they did.

Regardless of what is being sold or offered, people have to be encouraged to interact with your product. It has to be easy for customers and prospects to talk about your product and tell the rest of the world, “Hey, I’m looking at this product and it’s really amazing.”

Whether it’s software or artwork, people need to be able to interact with it and experience it.

My advice to the National Gallery – other than hiring me, of course! –  is to embrace storytelling by leveraging interactive digital technology so people be immersed in the collection and the paintings being displayed.

This will make an impact. People will learn about the artists and the art will resonate with them in a much better way.


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