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May 9, 2001

Imaging Research Center Creates Virtual Tour of Cone Sisters Apartment

Click here for 35 second movie
Original Photo IRC Recreation
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In what is likely a first for museums around the country, The Baltimore Museum of Art and UMBC's Imaging Research Center (IRC) have collaborated to launch develop a virtual tour (click here for a sample) of the Cone Sisters' apartments as part of the Grand Reopening of the Cone Wing in April 2001. The newly reinstalled galleries focus on the Museum's incomparable holdings of French master Henri Matisse and provide a breathtaking look at more than 100 paintings, sculptures, and works on paper by many of the world's most important artists. This state-of-the-art virtual tour uses real-time computer animation to allow visitors to guide themselves through the rooms where the Baltimore sisters' lived from the 1870s until the 1940s and where their renowned collection of post-Impressionist and modern art was originally displayed.

"I want to thank UMBC for the tremendous job they have done to bring The Cone Collection into the 21st century," said Doreen Bolger, BMA Director. "This is an outstanding example of how technology can enhance our experience and appreciation of art. Not only will visitors get to see the breathtaking Collection of works as they were displayed in the Cone Sisters' apartments, they will also get to see and learn more about the Collection with every visit."

The first phase of the virtual tour project, which will open to the public in conjunction with the Cone Collection Grand Reopening on April 22, is the digital recreation of the sisters' apartments. The Virtual Tour will be displayed on a computer monitor in the Cone Wing Interpretive Gallery, where a vignette of furniture and other items from the sisters' apartments will be installed. In the Virtual Tour, visitors will be able to explore the rooms of the apartments with close ups and directional movements. A large-screen version of the tour will be available on Opening Day in the BMA's May Gallery. This life-size format will feature a 7- by 18-foot three-sided screen.

"It is especially gratifying to be able to use the expertise of UMBC's Imaging Research Center in supporting the BMA's presentation of the Cone reinstallation project," said UMBC president Freeman A. Hrabowski, III. "The BMA-UMBC partnership is an excellent example of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts."

The special effects-style production has involved more than 15 UMBC students and faculty and new animation software to create an experience that reaches new levels of digital design. To make the experience as photorealistic as possible, IRC researchers and designers found the original floor plans of the Cone Sisters' apartments in the Marlborough Building at 1701 Eutaw Place, which had been gutted in the 1970s. They then worked for six months to recreate hundreds of details for each room, piece of furniture, and household object featured in more than 30 archival photographs. Digital images taken of the actual paintings, sculpture, and furniture in The Cone Collection were added, as well as music in rooms where a piano or radio was located. Views from the windows will approximate the actual views in the photographs.

For the second phase of the project, the IRC and the BMA will add layers of interpretive materials to the three-dimensional images such as critical essays, letters from artists and the Cone sisters, and other materials from the Cone Archives housed at the BMA. Visitors will be able to point and click on the objects to learn more about them. Eventually, these materials will also be added to the BMA's website and available as a CD-ROM.

The IRC is a state-of-the art computer-based research and production facility specializing in high-end computer animation and visualization. Established in 1987, the IRC operates in conjunction with UMBC's academic programs in Imaging and Digital Arts and provides a forum for faculty, researchers, corporate partners, and students to integrate and push the boundaries of digital media. IRC projects have included animation, interactivity, and production work for The Discovery Channel, The Minnesota Orchestra, PBS, MIT, The Family Channel, and Interactive Children's Television.

Cone Virtual Tour Project Team

Allison Perkins, Project Coordinator

Allison Perkins joined the BMA as Deputy Director for Education & Interpretation in 1999, with 17 years of art museum education experience, including, most recently, an eight-year tenure as Education Director at the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Texas. She has also served as Curator of Education at the Portland Museum of Art in Maine and Acting Curator of Education at the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, Nebraska. Her publications and videos for the Amon Carter Museum include: "Looking at Prints" (gallery guide); "A Visitor's Guide to One of the Finest Collections of American Art" (gallery guide); "Thomas Coles' Paintings of Eden" (brochure and video); and "American Impressionists, American Realists: In Search of the New" (brochure and video produced in cooperation with the Metropolitan Museum of Art). Perkins has been recognized as "Art Museum Educator of the Year for Western Region" from the National Arts Educators Association (1994), and as a Kellogg Foundation Fellow for the Field Museum of National History, Chicago (1986). At the BMA, Perkins is responsible for all interpretive programming and educational outreach.

Dan Bailey, Co-Director

Dan Bailey is an Associate Professor in the Visual Arts Department and teaches animation at UMBC. His films and animations have received numerous national and international awards and have been included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the Georges Pompidou Center in Paris, France. His work has been screened at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Whitney Museum of American Art, and Smithsonian Galleries, and has been broadcast on HBO, MTV, and PBS. Other projects include directing 18 minutes of animation for the Minnesota Orchestra's award-winning pilot video "On the Day You Were Born." Bailey is also collaborating with MIT Researcher Kent Larson on a virtual documentary of Louis Kahn's unbuilt Hurva Synagogue. In 1998, he received a Faculty Mentor Award from Phi Kappa Phi for teaching. He received his graduate degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Alan Price, Co-Director

Since 1996, Alan Price has been Associate Director of the Imaging Research Center, Director of Special Projects, Research, and Production at UMBC. Price graduated from the University of South Florida in 1988, and was Program Specialist of the Film/Video Production Center at UMBC's Visual Arts Department prior to his current position. He has directed projects at the IRC for clients including The Solstice Project, a nationally aired PBS documentary, the Maryland Department of Economic Development and the Office of Information Technology, MdBio, Interactive Children's Television, The Baltimore Ravens, and multiple visualization projects for the UMBC community. Price has received an Individual Artists Award in Media from the Maryland State Arts Council in 1995 and a Pittsburgh Filmmakers Mid-Atlantic Region Media Arts Fellowship in 1992. His films and animations have been shown at many prestigious film festivals, including Siggraph (1998, 1997), International Animation Festival of Brazil (1999), Holland Animation Festival (1998), Artscape Film Program, Baltimore (1998, 1992), The Baltimore Museum of Art (1998, 1992), PBS Independent Eye (1997), The Education Channel's Independents Weekend Showcase (1997), Rosebud Festival, AFI Theater, Washington, D.C. (1996, 1992), Corcoran Gallery of Art (1996), International Festival of Animation, Berlin (1992), New York Expo (1992), Ann Arbor Film Festival (1991), and Humboldt Film Festival (1991).

Computer Modeling:

Christian Valiente, Ethan Berner, Brinton Jaecks

IRC Graduate Research Assistants:

Sala Wong, Meg Flynn, Mina Cheon

UMBC Student Interns:

Carl Gehrman, Shawn Stringfield, Laurie Lutz, Christopher Wood


The University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) is Baltimore's public research university. Medium-sized and historically diverse, UMBC emphasizes the synergy between technology and the humanities. One of the nation's top producers of information technology graduates, the university has gained a reputation as a powerhouse in technology workforce development. UMBC's connections with Baltimore span the disciplines. From lead paint removal to teacher training, collaboration with the arts to collaboration with business, UMBC is closely tied to the culture and development of Baltimore. The university's arts programs in dance, music, theater, and visual arts have attracted regional and national attention. Students exhibit work and perform alongside faculty in arts events on campus and at venues in cities such as Baltimore, Washington and New York. UMBC visual arts faculty have a diverse background in the fine and applied arts, spanning art history, computer art, film, graphic design, photography, video, printmaking, drawing and painting. Their research and creative endeavors center on the interdisciplinary aspects of the late 20th-century digital and time-based art forms and are regularly on view in both national and international forms of exhibitions and publications.


Maryland's largest art museum, The Baltimore Museum of Art features a collection of more than 85,000 objects ranging from ancient mosaics to contemporary art. The famed Cone Collection of modern art-assembled by legendary Baltimore sisters Claribel and Etta Cone-is the cornerstone of the Museum's holdings. The highlight is a group of 500 works by Henri Matisse, considered among the most important in the world.Other areas of strength in the BMA's collection include: modern and contemporary art, the arts of Africa, Old Master paintings and sculpture, and works on paper from the Renaissance to the present day.

Posted by dwinds1 at May 9, 2001 12:00 AM