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In the museum of Bologna, Italy, cameras and AI are being used to assess whether artworks are appreciated by visitors.

The publication of the European Commission’s White Paper on Artificial Intelligence, which is destined to inevitably push forward the implementation of AI systems at all levels, has led even museums to become more intelligent.

Developed and implemented in Italy, the “ShareArt” project is made of a series of data acquisition devices, equipped with cameras able to gather information, which is immediately sent to a server that stores it and processes it.

What does this mean? For the first time in art history, visitors and not only artworks, are being looked at and studied.

The camera positioned near the artwork automatically detects faces that look in its direction acquiring, at the same time, a series of information relating to the behavior in the observation of works of art such as, for example, the path taken to get close to the artwork, the number of people who have observed it, the time and distance of observation, gender, age group and emotions of visitors who observe. Cameras and big data, therefore, determine where viewers of works of art tend to focus their attention. Through this project, it was also found that the average observation time for artworks is about five seconds per visitor, and only a few pieces keep visitors engaged for more than fifteen seconds.


This system also turned out to be useful as a health and safety procedure during the pandemic, to detect and notify the correct usage of face masks and social distancing measures in venues.

Altogether, the review of this behavioral data has helped the museum to boost visitors — especially, considering the loss of tourism and cultural activities due to the pandemic — by optimizing exhibitions to make them more appealing and engaging.

“The way visitors observe, how they get to the artwork and how long they observe it help museum curators better understand visitors’ behaviors and researchers have a deeper knowledge of the dynamics of perception of appreciation by collecting and processing a large amount of data.” stated Roberto Grandi, president of Istituzione Bologna Musei.

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Author: Valeria Morone Marketing & Communication


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