When the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History (MAH) reached out to local artists for its latest exhibition, SEE BE SEEN, COMMUNITY PORTRAITS, the enthusiastic response was a real win for a museum so passionately devoted to community involvement. But the hundreds of portraits submitted also presented a challenge. How could the museum hang the art, credit the artists and share their personal visions in a packed gallery? The solution was a combination of a uniquely designed display and a customized Augmented Reality (AR) app.
The portraits covered every square inch of the gallery walls – from floor to ceiling. This made it impossible to use traditional labels next to each work. The MAH provided visitors with printed layouts, but these were hard to read and only offered the name of each artist and the title of the corresponding artwork. Visitors wanted to explore more, and artists had interesting stories to share. There just wasn’t an obvious way to do it.
To address this challenge, the MAH teamed up with North South Studios, the developer of Hoodoo, a free AR app. Using Hoodoo‘s image recognition capabilities, North South and MAH graphic designer, Michaela Clark-Nagaoka, were able to seamlessly provide visitors with information about each piece and artist via visitors’ own smartphones.
“QR codes would not have worked,” says Clark, “since they require putting codes on the images. 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 useHoodoo to enrich visitor experiences.”
“This is just one way cultural institutions can make use of Hoodoo,” says Bill Newell, NorthSouth‘s CEO. There are multiple uses for museums, parks, monuments, historic neighborhoods—any number of places that would benefit from providing visitors with enhanced experiences. We were lucky to be given this opportunity to help the MAH explore alternate ways of presenting information.” 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.”
Hoodoo has already been used to publish engaging children’s books, dynamic magazine ads and exciting mobile games. It has also been the driver of a set of video-enabled business cards and is slated for use in several industrial training and development courses.