He’s preparing for a tour for Mid-Pacific Institute students taking Nick Pireh’s museum studies class. The museum offers up to four docent-led school tours a day, so why is the director leading this one?
The museum hopes to learn as much from the students as they’ll take away from their tour. “Mid-Pacific has an impressive museum studies program,” says Jost. “One of the cool things they have now are these high-tech scanners. They can scan an object and create a three-dimensional rendering of it. This should create an interesting learning experience for them, but it could also provide some interesting data for us.”
Cut to 9am the next morning. Jost sits cross-legged on the floor with Mid-Pacific students as they listen to Asian art curator Shawn Eichman offer historical and cultural perspective on one of the museum’s most famous works—the 11th-century wood statue of Guanyin.
When he’s done, the kids begin their work. It looks like something out of C.S.I., as students wave the flashing scanners back and forth in front of the 1,000-year-old figure like painters working a canvas.
“As the light bounces off the sculpture it sends data back to the computer,” explains Pireh. Another student follows the scanner around with an open laptop, and as the scanner collects data, an image of Guanyin’s face and arm begins to take shape on the screen.
The tour is not all about playing with high-tech wizardry—students also listen to collections technician Alan Ness talk about Isamu Noguchi’s Red Untitled, on view in Luce Pavilion. “You know those ‘Most interesting man in the world’ commercials?” Alan begins. “In one of them they say, ‘In museums, he is allowed to touch the art.’ I see that and I’d like to think that my job makes me the most interesting man in the world. I get to learn about the lives these artists have lived, what they went through leading up to their work. It’s an honor to be able to help display their work in the best way possible for people to see.”
When they’re finished at the museum, the students will have a lot of data to parse, but Jost is already bubbling with ideas on how to use it. “As just one example, this data could be used to create a 3D model that could be uploaded to our website, which would completely change the digital experience.”