Norfolk, Virginia, at night

Wandering around the Baron and Ellin Gordon Art Gallery on the campus of Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia at a contemplative pace is a bit of an unusual art patron. Gordon is short, skinny, and black. Oh, and it’s a robot.

“It is a stand in for a human,” said Cullen Strawn, Executive Director for the Arts at ODU. The little stand in carries a camera around, at about chest height, and remote art enthusiasts can drive him around from the comfort of their own home, by phone, tablet, or PC.

Because we live in the future.

“We had to start thinking on how to expand access,” said Strawn. “People can visit the galleries without leaving their home. In fact, anyone anywhere in the world can. It allow you when you move around the space, to zoom in on art, on labels, and so much more.”

Gordon the gallery robot is available to anyone via the ODU’s ticketing system. There is only one Gordon, so interested users can reserve their time slot. For the general public, a 60-minute slot is $15, and can be shared among a group. While controlling the robot, you can drive it around, take pictures, and even interact with people in the art gallery via a built-in speaker and microphone.

“It is very user-friendly, very easy and it’s a lot of fun to move an object through a remote location,” said Strawn.

Like many venues that aren’t easily taken online, art galleries and museums have had a difficult pivot in the past year. Gordon the gallery robot is a fun and unique way to expand the reach of this small gallery far beyond the university.

The gallery is currently showing their annual juried student art exhibition, featuring works in all mediums by ODU students. The gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday, 11am – 4pm.

Image: Shutterstock