Cantor Arts Center Wins Prestigious
Media and Technology Award

Stanford Graduate School of Education Students Create App That Engages Children and Earns Top Honors from the American Alliance of Museums


Stanford, Calif., May 8, 2015 — The Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University earned a 2015 Gold Muse Award from the American Alliance of Museums’ Media and Technology Professional Network. The Cantor won the Honeysett and Din Award for TandemArt, a software application created by recent Stanford Graduate School of Education (GSE) students Renee Bruner and Meredith Downing. The app was designed to engage early learners (ages 3–6) and their parents and caregivers with art on view from the Cantor’s collection.


The women drew on what they had learned in the GSE’s Learning, Design and Technology program as well as their previous work experience: Downing (M.A. ’14) had taught preschool at the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center in Washington, D.C., and Bruner (M.A. ’14) coded children’s e-books for Simon & Schuster. The women created TandemArt, optimized for iPad but accessible from any tablet or mobile device, as their master’s thesis. During the year that they developed, revised and tested the app, they worked in partnership with the Cantor’s Family Programs Coordinator Lauren Hahn.


“We are delighted that Renee and Meredith’s love of museums drew them to the Cantor and thrilled that they are being rewarded for their innovative and important work to engage young audiences in the excitement of art and museums,” said Cantor Arts Center Director Connie Wolf. “Our mission is to connect with the academic life of the university, and we are deeply committed to academic accessibility. Renee and Meredith’s project, designed to foster connections with art for very young guests, aligns perfectly with the museum’s goals. The Cantor has always fostered a sense of discovery through direct experiences with works of art for all our visitors.”



The app uses the history of the Stanford family to create a narrative around Leland Jr.’s 10th birthday party as depicted in Thomas Hill’s painting Palo Alto Spring. The app leads visitors on an adventure in the Cantor’s Robert Mondavi Family Gallery for 19th-century American and European art.


“Our goal was both to engage the youngest audiences in developmentally appropriate activities around the art, while also providing a tool for parents to better facilitate that experience,” says Downing. Bruner and Downing tested their digital prototype with a father and son, who at one point put the iPad down while continuing to engage with the art for 10 minutes. “That was when we knew we had accomplished our goal.” While TandemArt is specific to the Cantor Arts Center, Downing believes that many of the basic principles could be adapted to any museum space.


Muse Awards staff reported that “the jury loved how the experience targeted not only pre-literate children but also actively involves their caregivers in the experience. The idea of engaging young children in the delight of exploration of a museum’s exhibits and the exchange with others in TandemArt truly fosters the development of the next generation of museum visitors and supporters.”


The Muse Awards

Now in its 26th year, the Muse Awards recognize outstanding achievement in museum media. The competition is an activity of the Media and Technology Professional Network of the American Alliance of Museums. The Muse Awards competition received more than 200 applications in 14 categories from a wide variety of museums in North America, Europe, Australia and Asia. This year’s entries included videos, interactive hand-held tours, applications, podcasts, blogs, online communities, Web sites, audio tours and gallery installations.


The Honeysett and Din Award recognizes top entries of student works that meet the criteria for any of the listed categories. Nik Honeysett and Herminia Din, former Muse committee members who are still in the museum field, created this award to honor outstanding student work.


More than 100 judges—museum and media professionals from across the world—were involved in the process of selecting the Muse Award winners. Winning entries were expected to demonstrate outstanding achievement in content, interface, design, innovation and appeal. Judges also considered the quality of writing, script, narrative, editing and research; the quality of video and/or still image; visual appeal; the quality of the users’ experience; and the intent to which new directions were charted or old challenges resolved through technical innovation.


The Muse Awards were presented during a champagne reception on Sunday, April 26, 2015 at the 2015 American Alliance of Museums Annual Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia. Downing and Bruner attended and accepted the award for themselves and for the Cantor Arts Center.


Cantor Arts Center
The Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University is a vital and dynamic institution with a venerable history. Founded in 1891 with the university, the historic museum was expanded and renamed in 1999 for lead donors Iris and B. Gerald Cantor. The Cantor’s encyclopedic collection spans 5,000 years, includes more than 40,000 artworks and beckons visitors to travel around the world and through time: from Africa to the Americas to Asia, from classical to contemporary. With 24 galleries presenting selections from the collection and more than 20 special exhibitions each year, the Cantor serves Stanford’s academic community, draws art lovers from the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond and attracts campus visitors from around the world. Free admission, free tours, lectures, family activities plus changing exhibitions make the Cantor one of the most well-attended university art museums in the country and a great resource for teaching and research on campus.


Free Family Programs at Cantor
FAMILY SUNDAYS bring art alive with new themes for tours and art-making activities every week. All ages are welcome; children must be accompanied by adult companions. Docents lead family-friendly tours at 12:30, 1, 1:30, and 2 p.m. Professional art educators teach Studio Art-Making in 30-minute sessions at 1, 1:30, 2, and 2:30 p.m. Sign up is required. Open to the public.
ART PACKS, available daily, offer a hands-on activity for every visit. Sign out an art pack from the main lobby desk during museum open hours. Art packs are stocked with colored pencils and sketching paper for your own independent drawing session. Open to the public.

SPECIAL MEMBERSHIP EVENTS are offered for museum members at the Family/Dual level and above. Reservations are required.


Visitor information
The Cantor Arts Center is open six days a week, Wednesday–Monday, 11 a.m.–5 p.m., Thursday until 8 p.m.; closed Tuesday. Admission is free. The Cantor is located on the Stanford campus, off Palm Drive at Museum Way. Parking is free after 4 p.m. weekdays and all day on weekends and major holidays. Information: 650-723-4177, museum.stanford.ed


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Notes to Editors
• To arrange an interview or obtain more information, contact Anna Koster, Head of Communications, Cantor Arts Center, 650-725-4657,
• For publicity images, contact PR Assistant Manager Margaret Whitehorn, Cantor Arts Center, 650-724-3600,

• A list of Muse awards and 2015 winners
• About Muse Award categories


Renee Bruner (left) and Meredith Downing display the app they created as they stand in front of Thomas Hill's painting Palo Alto Spring depicting Leland Stanford Jr's 10th birthday.