Kent State MuseLab opens new Mona Lisa exhibit


Paula Conger interacts with a painting at the Mona Lisa 4x Exhibit in the Kent State Univeristy Library Thursday, September 15, 2016.

Gael Reyes

Kent State’s MuseLab unveiled a new exhibit titled “Mona Lisa x4” on Thursday.

The exhibit is part of a three-year research project done in partnership with Duquesne University and the Smithsonian Institution, with initial design ideas involving students from Kent State’s School of Library and Information Sciences.

The opening reception was held in the MuseLab lobby on the third floor of the university library, and included a pre-reception talk by Andrew Pekarik, a senior museum research fellow at the Freer and Sackler Galleries of the Smithsonian Institution.

Pekarik’s talk, titled “Better Museums. Happier Museum-goers,” addressed changing the role of modern museums from one of educational dominance to service and engagement. His research on experience preference played a crucial role in the exhibit’s creation.

In a pre-speech interview, Pekarik likened the “Mona Lisa x4” exhibit to a prism, offering different views on Da Vinci’s iconic painting.

“Mona Lisa is our prism and here, if you will, are the different colors of Mona Lisa,” Pekarik said.

Kiersten Latham, MuseLab director and SLIS associate professor, started the project with her Museum Communications class in fall 2015.

The class was divided into groups based on their experience preference type. Each team brainstormed and proposed ideas for the exhibit. The ideas were voted on and the winning concepts were implemented.

Mitch Sumner, a library and information science graduate student, was a part of one of the winning teams in Latham’s class.

“Mona Lisa is absolutely everywhere,” Sumner said. “She’s in advertisements, commercials, movies, TV — she is this pop culture phenomenon. We kind of take the painting for granted and don’t really care that much about it.”

Sumner says that he gained a newfound appreciation for the Mona Lisa after delving into the project and he hopes that visitors do too.

Students and faculty alike are invited to partake in the MuseLab research. Subjects will be required to take two surveys before and after entering the exhibit.

Interested parties can contact Latham at [email protected].

“Mona Lisa x4” will remain open until spring 2017 and is free to the public. Visiting hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Contact Gael Reyes at [email protected].