The National Gallery launch "The Keeper of Paintings and the Palette of Perception"

  • StoryFutures
  • April 5th 2022

The National Gallery has launched its first immersive augmented reality (AR) app created with the help of over 80 children in time for the Easter holidays.

The Keeper of Paintings and the Palette of Perception
is a free mobile-based experience that uses AR technology to encourage children to explore the Gallery and learn about its paintings.

Young Gallery visitors are asked to help guide a fictitious Keeper of Paintings to find a lost ‘Palette of Perception’ – a magical object with special gems that gives them ‘powers’ – to engage with the paintings digitally. As they move through the Gallery responding to the app’s story, a new digital world is revealed where visitors can solve puzzles, find hidden secrets, and collect the gems connected to the paintings.

This child-led experience takes place in the National Gallery, London but also, through AR, a wider imagined world of Keepers where a group of magical beings help care for some of our world’s most precious objects.

The Keeper of Paintings app is suitable for ages 7–11 and launches at the National Gallery in April. It is available to download for free on iOS and Android stores.

The experience was created and developed by London-based immersive experience agency Arcade and commissioned by the National Gallery and project partners from Brunel University London, and Royal Holloway, University of London. They worked alongside a dedicated Children’s Advisory Group and school children from London, Brighton, Bournemouth, and Folkstone, who were consulted throughout the development and have helped devise and test the app.

Lawrence Chiles, Head of Digital at the National Gallery
, London, says: ‘It’s fantastic that we are able to launch our first dedicated app for children that creates a new perspective on the paintings at the National Gallery. It’s a rich experience and it’s been such a rewarding process to co-design it with the children that have been involved. Arcade, the children, and all the partners involved have created something really magical.’

Professor James Bennett, Director of StoryFutures at Royal Holloway, University of London
, says: ‘The National Gallery and Arcade have taken on a massive innovation challenge to think about co‐designing with children international formats for immersive experiences and The Keeper of Paintings is an amazing result that will thrill children and families. This project shows what can be achieved by linking great storytelling with innovative new immersive technologies. Perhaps the most exciting thing is that the story of The Keeper of Paintings has only just begun.’

Jon Meggitt, Co‐Founder of Arcade and lead developer
, says: ‘We were absolutely thrilled to win the opportunity to develop this experience in partnership with this special and talented group, but working alongside StoryFutures, the National Gallery, the wonderful kids of the Children's Advisory Group and all the other partners has exceeded every one of our expectations. The entire Arcade team is so proud to be launching our most ambitious immersive experience to date, and we can’t wait to see where the story world of the Keepers might take us next.’

Dr. Vanja Garaj, Director of Research at Brunel Design School, Brunel University London
, says: ’Inspired by the traditional post of Keeper of the Gallery, The Keeper of Paintings offers an incredibly fun way for children and their families to enjoy the art of painting. The experience is a wonderful display of how the latest immersive tech can be used to intertwine creatively entertainment and education and it is a great pleasure to see it being launched.’

This experience is for visitors aged 7–11 and their families.

"The Keeper of Paintings" was commissioned by the National Gallery and StoryFutures, Royal Holloway, University of London as part of StoryFutures China, a research and development project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). StoryFutures China is led by Brunel Design School, Brunel University London.

The experience was created by Arcade, a London-based immersive experience agency, with the support of a dedicated Children’s Advisory Group.

It is designed to showcase innovative uses of immersive storytelling in the museums and galleries sector - to promote the transnational creative industries' collaboration with China under the AHRC’s UK-China Research-Industry Creative Partnerships and the Creative Industries Clusters programmes.

Experience The Keeper of Paintings
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