The National Gallery




Apr-Aug 2020


Playlines National Gallery Residency 2020

Amidst the unprecedented conditions of lockdown and the Covid-19 pandemic, We’re really proud to have been working in partnership with the National Gallery, helping to develop new ways for remote, socially-distancing and international audiences to access the nation’s art treasures via Augmented Reality.

On March 10th 2020, Playlines began a residency at National Gallery X, a partnership between the National Gallery and King’s College to support new research and digital prototypes to answer the challenge, “What will the gallery of the future look like?” Our initial area of research was into concepts around Multichannel Curation. As Augmented Reality pioneers, we have seen how AR allows creators to re-contextualise our audiences’ experience of everyday spaces with digital story, gameplay and adventure. Now, we wanted to investigate the “non-zero-sum information design” capabilities of AR, and build new tools for Gallery curators to curate the digital dimension of the gallery’s spaces.

Then, on March 16th, Lockdown began in the UK. At the Gallery’s request, by March 27th we’d pivoted, and redesigned our idea to explore the same multichannel curation concepts while delivering an at-home remote “digital visit” experience, allowing users to digitally “hang” a masterpiece on their own walls in AR, then explore a deep and diverse ‘constellation’ of cross-referential content tagged to that artwork through a groundbreaking AR interface.

Working with a fantastic group of curators, artists, engineers, storytellers and musicians, we developed an app containing 60+ minutes of multivalent insight and interpretation, and developed a robust remote Beta testing process to test with real National Gallery patrons, with a particular focus on 65yo+ users. In testing, we were able to achieve 25min+ of engagement per user per painting in a digital encounter with the artwork as a 3D, to-scale object in the user’s own home, accompanied by a diverse, cross-referential cross-section of National Gallery’s amazing scholarship.