[Interview] Democratizing World-Class Art: The Met x Samsung Art Store

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“We believe that art is for all. Expanding access through digital activations allows us to have a lasting relationship with art lovers around the world.”

– Stephen Mannello, Head of Retail and Licensing at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Since last year, Samsung Art Store users have been able to display iconic artwork from The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met) on The Frame — transforming the TV into a digital canvas that infuses artistic flair into any space. By partnering with Samsung, the public has a chance to view historical artifacts through immersive digital experiences that can be enjoyed from home.

 

The Met seeks to expand art education while exploring new ways for technology to positively impact cultural exchange and inspire audiences around the world. The goal is to bridge the gap between the past and the present to create a future where beauty and creativity can flourish anywhere.

 

Samsung Newsroom sat down with Stephen Mannello, Head of Retail and Licensing at The Met, to discuss the partnership with Samsung and how technology can positively influence the museum experience.

 

▲ The Metropolitan Museum of Art has partnered with Samsung Art Store to democratize access to its world-class collection of art.

 

 

A New Partnership for the Digital Age

Q: What is your role at The Met? How do you influence the museum and visitor experience?

 

I’m the Head of Retail and Licensing at The Met which means I work with The Met Store and our licensees to develop products, publications and experiences that draw from the museum’s vast collection of art spanning 5,000 years and bring it into the hands of consumers around the world.

 

My role offers a unique opportunity to create a connection with visitors and consumers through products that engage, educate and inspire them to experience The Met’s 19 different collection areas in new ways. Proceeds from our work go back to support the study, conservation and presentation of The Met’s collection, so there is a tangible impact to the products and experiences we develop.

 

“We are looking forward to evolving and experimenting with how we continue The Met’s mission to bring art into the everyday, and technology is an essential mode of making that happen.”

 

 

Q: What was the initial focus for The Met when it began collaborating with Samsung Art Store last fall?

 

Working with Samsung Art Store allowed us to step into a unique space where technology meets digital innovation and interior design. Our inaugural collection spans time and place to include highlights from The Met’s 17 curatorial departments which users of The Frame can explore and display in their homes.

 

Sharing these beloved works with Samsung Art Store has allowed us to present a small part of what The Met has to offer to a global audience of art and design lovers like never before — and this is only the beginning of what we hope will be a longstanding relationship. We look forward to sharing more of our collection and exploring different thematic offerings that inspire and delight Samsung Art Store users in the future.

 

 

Q: Over the past few months, how have The Frame users responded to The Met’s collection?

 

We were overwhelmed to see how popular artwork from The Met has been on the platform. It is a true testament to the enduring appeal of pieces like Vincent van Gogh’s “Wheat Field with Cypresses” or Emanuel Leutze’s “Washington Crossing the Delaware” — both of which are popular attractions in our galleries and translate beautifully when experienced digitally on The Frame.

 

▲ “Wheat Field with Cypresses” by Vincent van Gogh on The Frame

 

 

Impressionism With The Met and Art Store

Q: Samsung Art Store will feature a selection of Impressionist works this month from The Met’s collection. What is the significance of this new selection?

 

The Impressionist movement began in 1874, just four years after The Met was founded. While the two events are independent of each other, there is an interesting parallel in the revolutionary spirit of artists like Edgar Degas and Camille Pissarro — who led the charge in this radical style of artmaking that put a new emphasis on everyday life — and the foundation of The Met which sought to democratize art by bringing it to the masses.

 

Since the foundation of the movement 150 years ago, The Met has become home to dozens of renowned Impressionist pieces that endure as visitor favorites. The visual splendor of this artwork is supported by so many wonderful stories. For example, “The Monet Family in their Garden at Argenteuil” was painted by Edouard Manet in 1874 while the two artists were vacationing near one another. As this piece was being made, Monet in turn painted Manet, and Renoir simultaneously painted “Madame Monet and Her Son” (now in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.). These works of art speak volumes about the vibrant creative exchange that took place between Impressionists at the outset of the movement.

 

 

Q: Out of the artwork selected for Samsung Art Store, which three would you recommend for The Frame?

 

▲“View from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts, after a Thunderstorm–The Oxbow” (1836) by Thomas Cole

 

First is Thomas Cole’s “View from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts, after a Thunderstorm–The Oxbow” (1836). This impressive Hudson River School landscape painting juxtaposes untamed wilderness and pastoral settlement to spotlight the beauty of American scenery — with a vast array of possible interpretations to the artist’s message. Hidden in the foreground, Cole includes himself at his easel capturing the breathtaking scene. The fine details and enigmatic nature of the work make for captivating viewing at home.

 

▲ “Circus Sideshow (Parade de Cirque)” (1887-88) by Georges Seurat

 

Next is Georges Seurat’s “Circus Sideshow (Parade de Cirque)” (1887-88). This groundbreaking painting is the artist’s first nighttime scene and the first to depict popular entertainment. At the time this piece was made, the parade, or sideshow, was a free attraction designed to lure passersby to purchase tickets to the main circus event. The excellent details of this Pointillist composition are especially easy to appreciate on the Frame.

 

▲ “Still Life with Apples and a Pot of Primroses” (ca. 1890) by Paul Cézanne

 

Finally, I’d recommend Paul Cézanne’s “Still Life with Apples and a Pot of Primroses” (ca. 1890). This elegant still life was once owned by Claude Monet — an enthusiastic gardener — and was gifted to him by the painter Paul Helleu who famously created the astrological ceiling design at Grand Central Station. With its bold colors and graphic lines, this beautiful work demonstrates Cézanne’s mastery of the still life and is sure to enhance any room.

 

 

Q: In your opinion, how has The Met leveraged The Frame and Samsung Art Store to further support its aspirations to bring audiences across different countries and cultures together and draw unexpected connections?

 

This digital activation has offered a powerful extension of the museum experience at home. Just like visiting galleries, different works resonate with different people at different moments in their lives. It is exciting to see users continually select and change the artwork on display in their homes to suit their mood, design aesthetic or even season. Visiting museums should be about discovery and curiosity with an element of the unexpected. The Met’s feature on Samsung Art Store is a successful example of translating a physical experience into a digital one.

 

 

Technology’s Impact on Art and Accessibility

Q: How do you perceive the impact of art on individuals and its influence on collective culture? How does The Met contribute to that impact?

 

The Met is a space for everyone to be inspired, learn and discover unexpected connections across time and place. Our collection highlights more than 1.5 million examples of human creative achievement from around the world — allowing visitors to the museum and our website to immerse themselves in art. Experiencing The Met and its pieces offers an opportunity to reflect, ask questions and explore untapped creativity and ideas.

 

“There is an interesting parallel in the revolutionary spirit of [the Impressionist movement] that put a new emphasis on everyday life and the foundation of The Met which sought to democratize art.”

 

 

Q: In your opinion, why is it essential to democratize access to art by making it available to a wider audience through platforms like Samsung Art Store?

 

We believe that art is for all, but many individuals who come to The Met may only visit once in their lifetime. Expanding access through digital activations, products and experiences allows us to have a lasting relationship with art lovers around the world. We hope that sharing The Met’s collection on The Frame can help spark meaningful dialogue about culture and creativity in the past, present and future.

 

 

Q: What role do you see technology playing in enhancing the museum experience, especially in the context of digital art platforms like Samsung Art Store?

 

Engaging with art enthusiasts digitally allows us to spotlight pieces across The Met’s collection in new ways, enabling discovery and exploration. That might mean viewing works that are not on display in the galleries, learning the stories behind the art and artists or zooming in on details — but these are just the early possibilities of bringing physical works of art into the digital space. We are looking forward to evolving and experimenting with how we continue The Met’s mission to bring art into the everyday, and technology is an essential mode of making that happen.

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