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For The Gallery That Has Too Much Of Too Much, An AR Identification App

As we’ve been seeing immersive technology and in particular augmented reality (AR) is becoming an increasingly popular tool for museums and art galleries, allowing visitors to go beyond the confines of exhibit or canvas to tell the hidden stories behind both or to show artefacts as they originally used to appear. In one recent case however, AR is being used in a very different way and unexpected way – to cope with being too successful.

When the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History (MAH) held a new scheme to reach out to the local community called See Be Seen, Community Portraits, allowing artists to submit their own works for public display the response took them by surprise. Not only did they have a strong showing, it was beyond anything they could have expected. In fact, they soon had more paintings than they had bargained for; enough to cover practically every last scrap of wall in the gallery. From a response point of view that’s great, but from a logistics point of view it’s something of a nightmare. How are you supposed to clearly label and catalogue all these works without causing a mess or having to leave people out to find the extra room? It turns out that AR was the answer.

MAH teamed up with North South Studios, producer of the AR app Hoodoo, to produce a custom experience utilising the app that allows visitors to the gallery to use their phones to recognise and identify the various paintings around the walls before giving the app user a rundown on all the information about the artwork and artist..

Hoodoo - Screenshot

“QR codes would not have worked since they require putting codes on the images.” Explains graphics designer Michaela Clark-Nagaoka, “NorthSouth came up with an elegant solution that fits the gallery’s aesthetic and blended, not detracted, from the exhibit design. In the future I can imagine many different ways we could use Hoodoo to enrich visitor experiences.”

MAH director Nina Simon adds, “This has been an exciting experiment as we continue to explore new ways to invite visitors to go deeper into exhibitions.”

North South Studios have released a video of Hoodoo in action at MAH which you can see below.