A Marriage of Technology and Ancient Culture: "Revealing Krishna"

Blog Date
Stuart O. Smith, Jr.

A first-of-its-kind exhibition, Revealing Krishna transports visitors to the dramatic floodplains of southern Cambodia and shows the life story of the sculpture, spanning 1,500 years and three continents. The exhibition unveils the newly restored Krishna alongside related sculptures through an integration of art, technology and experiential design.

Revealing Krishna features two monumental sculpture and four digital galleries, including a full-surround, mixed-reality HoloLens 2 tour that takes visitors through the story of the Cleveland Krishna. . . .

Revealing Krishna is organized by the CMA in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts of the Government of the Kingdom of Cambodia and in collaboration with the National Museum of Cambodia, the École française d’Extrême-Orient and the Musée national des arts asiatiques–Guimet. The exhibition runs from November 14, 2021, to January 30, 2022, in the Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Foundation Exhibition Hall.

This blog post shares what I learned about the Cleveland Museum of Art's Revealing Krishna: Journey to Cambodia’s Sacred Mountain exhibition before its opening, and while attending the preview on Friday, November 12, 2021. I was fortunate to be able to tour the exhibition before its opening to the public on November 14, 2021, and I want to encourage everyone to visit before it closes on January 30, 2022. I also included information about the historical Christmas decorations I saw at the Western Reserve Historical Society's Cleveland History Center (@CleStartsHere) while I was in University Circle.



Tweets Before Preview



Sonya Rhie Mace's One Hundred Days To Krishna

#100DaysToKrishna -- For one hundred days leading up to the opening of Revealing Krishna: Journey to Cambodia’s Sacred Mountain, the Cleveland Museum of Art Curator of Indian and Southeast Asian Art, Sonya Rhie Mace (@CMASonya), shared on Twitter interesting information and events about the exhibition. Here are some of her tweets that I retweeted to share with others:


Note that I signed up to attend the December 12, 2021, Visions and Revisions: Behind the Scenes of Revealing Krishna because I learned about the lecture from the following tweet by @CMASonya:



Tickets for Behind the Scenes -- December 12, 2021

Revealing Krishna: Journey to Cambodia's Sacred Mountain
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Visions and Revisions: Behind the Scenes of Revealing Krishna
December 12, 2021 2:00 p.m.
Gartner Auditorium & Virtual

Hear how curators, conservators, engineers, physicists, materials scientists, and leaders in the field of technology and digital imaging worked together to understand and convey the form, history, and context of the museum’s monumental sandstone sculpture Krishna Lifting Mount Govardhan.

Conservator Beth Edelstein and digital prototyping director Ainsley Buckner of Sears think[box] at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) discuss how 3-D modeling and printing of the sculpture were used in the conservation process. Curator Sonya Rhie Mace and digital modeling specialist Dale Utt III share how they worked together using 3-D models to digitally reconstruct the image of the Cleveland Krishna and virtually install it in its original cave sanctuary. Jane Alexander, chief digital information officer, and Mark Griswold, CWRU professor of radiology, detail how digital innovations, including high-resolution holograms, allow visitors to effectively experience the sculpture’s story.

Free, in-person or virtual attendee tickets required.


Beth Edelstein, Objects Conservator, The Cleveland Museum of Art

Ainsley Buckner, Director of Prototyping, Art, and Community Engagement at Sears think[box], Case Western Reserve University

Sonya Rhie Mace, George P. Bickford Curator of Indian and Southeast Asian Art, The Cleveland Museum of Art

Dale Utt III, Digital Artist, Owner, True Edge Archive

Jane Alexander, Chief Digital Information Officer, The Cleveland Museum of Art

Mark Griswold, Faculty Director at the Interactive Commons, The Pavey Family Designated Professor of Innovative Imaging, and Professor of Radiology, Case Western Reserve University

I am so glad I saw Sonya Rhie Mace's (@CMASonya) October 9, 2021 tweet, so I knew to get tickets for my family to attend a behind-the-scenes presentation about the creation of Revealing Krishna. The December 12th panel discussion is free and can be watched either in-person at the museum or live-streamed online.



Friday, November 12, 2021 - Revealing Krishna Media and Influencer Preview

Revealing Krishna Media and Influencer Preview
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This Friday! You're Invited to be Among the FIRST to Experience "Revealing Krishna: Journey to Cambodia's Sacred Mountain"

Thank you to Director of Media Relations Kelley Notaro Schreiber (@KelleyNotaro) for inviting me to the preview of Revealing Krishna: Journey to Cambodia’s Sacred Mountain exhibition. What follows are my tweets with photos/video from my visit.


Before entering the new Revealing Krishna exhibition, I took a photo in the Museum's Ames Family Atrium of the spider sculptures by Louise Bourgeois, and the Revealing Krishna banner. The spider sculptures are from the Picturing Motherhood Now exhibition, which is on view in the Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Foundation Exhibition Gallery through March 13, 2022. If you have not yet toured Picturing Motherhood Now, I highly recommend planning to visit it more than once. Learn about the spider sculptures and other artwork I saw while attending the preview of Picturing Motherhood Now in my blog post:

I was talking to a Cleveland Museum of Art guard about how it is nice that now you can walk up close to the spider sculptures as long as you do not touch the sculptures. The guard and I both noticed something new with the spiders since I saw them at the preview. Real spiders have added webs to the spider sculptures, which you can see if you enlarge the photo in my following tweet and look just above the tallest spider.


As I entered the Revealing Krishna: Journey to Cambodia’s Sacred Mountain exhibition, Director Of Communications and External Relations Caroline Guscott Shaw (@CarolineHerself) told me to be sure to note how technology was being used in the exhibition.


Digital rendering of “The Story of the Cleveland Krishna.” The mixed-reality tour culminates with a life-size holographic representation of the original cave temple on Phnom Da, where visitors are invited to walk around an artist’s re-creation of the sculpture as it might have stood. . . .

Featuring an immersive, mixed-reality HoloLens tour, the exhibition places the sculpture in the southern Cambodian landscape and sacred space from which it came. . . .

Visitors wearing HoloLens 2 headsets see high-resolution 3-D holographic projections of sculptural pieces accompanied by spatial audio and narration as they experience the myth of Krishna lifting Mount Govardhan and come to understand the sculpture’s history. The tour culminates in a life-size holographic projection of the cave temple on Phnom Da where the Cleveland Krishna appears to have stood. Visitors enter the sanctuary to find an artist’s re-creation of the sculpture showing Krishna supporting the mountain in which he stands.

Digital Process + Collaborators
HoloLens Experience: The Story of the Cleveland Krishna
Visitors are introduced to the world of Phnom Da and immersed in the global story of Cleveland’s Krishna through a mixed-reality experience. The voice of Krishna guides visitors through an augmented-reality landscape that blends photorealistic virtual 3-D models of locations and sculptures with ethereal motifs from the Krishna myth. This tour is guided through each visitor’s Microsoft HoloLens 2 headset, providing surround sound and situating the virtual experience as if users are in the physical environment itself. Visitors follow the journey of Krishna from Cambodia to Europe and Cleveland, concluding with its digital restoration and reinstatement in the original cave temple on Phnom Da. Through participating in the experience, visitors can understand all the factors across time and place that impacted the way Krishna looks today before traveling to the next gallery to see the sculpture itself, on display for the first time since its recent reconstruction.

The HoloLens tour was more powerful than I expected. I have tried HoloLens before, but the way the museum used it to tell the story of the Cleveland Krishna statue was excellent. It was a very effective use of this technology to further the story behind the artwork! To learn more, be sure to see the exhibition's Digital Process + Collaborators web page.

As I left the HoloLens Tour, I was fortunate to see Cleveland Museum of Art Chief Digital Information Officer Jane Alexander (@janecalexander) so that I could congratulate her in person for the incredible use of the technology for this exhibition.


While I was at the HoloLens Tour, I watched Dan Hanson (@DanHanson) create the following video about his HoloLens experience.


A post shared by Dan Hanson (@danhanson12)

It was great to see Dan Hanson at the preview, and very appropriate that he was at this exhibition that marries technology and cultural relics. He is very active in promoting both technology and Cleveland's cultural diversity on his websites: GreatLakesGeek.Com and ClevelandPeople.Com. He is also on the board of the Cleveland Cultural Gardens. (Learn about the.Cleveland Cultural Gardens in my blog post about the Annual One World Day.) I have known him for years from his leadership with the Greater Cleveland PC Users Group. (I was on the GCPCUG board of directors from January 2001 through December 2008, as their treasurer and website designer.)


Curator Sonya Rhie Mace and digital modeling specialist Dale Utt III share how they worked together using 3-D models to digitally reconstruct the image of the Cleveland Krishna and virtually install it in its original cave sanctuary.

Visitors then travel to the next gallery, where they see the newly restored Krishna sculptures, both from Cleveland and Phnom Penh, on view together for the first time. Accompanying them are three other large-scale early stone sculptures found on or near Phnom Da.

I was so pleased to be able to talk to Curator of Indian and Southeast Asian Art Sonya Rhie Mace (@CMASonya) when I was in the gallery with the two restored Krishna sculptures. I enjoyed seeing her excitement about the exhibition. I could tell that it brings her great joy to be able to share her work with all visitors to the museum.

I remember first learning of her work in 2016 during a "MIX at CMA" curator tour of Art and Stories from Mughal India, and a year later when I visited the Beyond Angkor: Cambodian Sculpture from Banteay Chhmar exhibition. My wife and co-blogger, Julie, was fascinated with the ancient wall at the Beyond Angkor exhibition. I still have the  2016 CMA Mughal app on my iPhone, which featured storytelling and pronunciation by Sonya Rhie Mace.


All eight gods from Phnom Da are reunited digitally in the next gallery in elegant, interactive projections. Created from a combination of photogrammetry and LiDAR scanning of the sculptures, 3-D models of the eight magnificent images are projected on individual scrims to be seen together at life-size scale as never before.

This gallery shows intimate, never-before-seen views of these ancient sculptures through breathtaking animations of high-resolution 3-D models, projected at life size. The arrangement of the projections mirrors the way visitors to Phnom Da would have experienced the gods, who have not been on view together in more than 1,000 years.


In the final gallery of the exhibition, wrapping across two walls, archival photographs of the eight sculptures interface with historical images, present-day footage, and animated maps to illustrate the importance of open dialogue and mutual sharing of resources in the preservation of cultural heritage.

I watched most of the video wall presentation at the end of the exhibition, but really need to go back and watch it all. Very interesting history.



Time For a Treat at the Provenance Cafe!

Snack time after Revealing Krishna Media and Influencer Preview
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The Cleveland Museum of Art is pleased to present Provenance, Provenance Café, and Catering by Provenance, a three-pronged dining concept created through an ongoing partnership between the museum, Bon Appétit Management Company, and celebrated chef Douglas Katz. The name “Provenance” is derived from the French provenir, meaning “to come from.” The word refers to the chronology of ownership pertaining to a historical object or work of art. but can also be used when describing the origin of food—particularly food from local sources. Provenance, Provenance Café, and Catering by Provenance marry the concept of locally sourced foods with the lineages of nearly 45,000 objects in the Cleveland Museum of Art’s collection.

Thank you, Cleveland Museum of Art, for the tasty treat at Provenance Cafe (@ProvenanceatCMA) after the Revealing Krishna preview.



Thank You, Cleveland Museum of Art!



Western Reserve Historical Society Holiday Decorations

Founded in May 1867, the Western Reserve Historical Society is Cleveland’s oldest existing cultural institution. . . . Cleveland’s extraordinary mixture of cultures and histories, dating from native American to contemporary immigrants continues to be reflected in its landscape and cities, and most importantly in the collections preserved in the Western Reserve Historical Society’s collections and properties.

Since I was already in University Circle, I briefly visited the Western Reserve Historical Society's Cleveland History Center (@CleStartsHere), where my wife and co-blogger, Julie, volunteers as a ride attendant at the restored Euclid Beach Park Grand Carousel. She and our son, Kevin F. Smith, are on the Board of Euclid Beach Park Now. (Learn more in my Euclid Beach Park blog posts.)

Julie showed me the historical Cleveland Christmas decorations at the museum, which includes some items from the Euclid Beach Boys (@EuclidBeachBoys) collection. I also learned that Mr. Jingeling will be at the University Circle Holiday CircleFest (learn more by searching for my "CircleFest" blog posts).






November 14, 2021, opening day!!



What Others Say

I always like to include what others write about an event I attend. Here are a few I saw -- please let me know of others by tagging me on Twitter.


Please share what others wrote about Revealing Krishna: Journey to Cambodia’s Sacred Mountain by retweeting the following:


Related Blog Posts

I always like to end my posts with a list of related blog posts, but I have written so many blog posts about the Cleveland Museum of Art, that it is best that you just see them all by pulling up all the posts tagged with:

Also, if you are interested in reading more art related blog posts, please see my 76 other blog posts tagged "Art"

Thank you for reading my blog post. You can learn about my travel journeys with my wife and co-blogger, Julie, and the venues we explore in Cleveland and Akron at: sosAssociates.com/Blog




Disclosure: I received an invitation to attend the Friday, November 12, 2021, Media & Influencer Preview of Revealing Krishna: Journey to Cambodia’s Sacred Mountain, which included both admission to the special preview along with one free beverage and snack item from Provenance Cafe. As a member of the Cleveland Museum of Art, I was entitled to free tickets to visit Revealing Krishna: Journey to Cambodia’s Sacred Mountain in the future, but the Media & Influencer Preview gave me special access to the museum staff responsible for the exhibition.

The invitation to attend came as a result of my support of the Cleveland Museum of Art via my @sos_jr Twitter feed and sosAssociates.com blog posts. I enjoyed the event, and wrote this blog post to share my experience at the Revealing Krishna: Journey to Cambodia’s Sacred Mountain preview at the Cleveland Museum of Art. I plan to use my membership benefit to return to see the exhibition again.