Curate your own art collection as a keeper of paintings
National Gallery creates immersive experience for families on Roblox
Issued July 2022
Available from 19 July 2022
Free (on PC and MAC only)
A magical augmented reality family trail at the National Gallery has been adapted into a free at-home experience for Roblox, the global online platform connecting millions of people through shared experiences .
The Keeper Council is a family-friendly experience launching this summer where aspiring museum ‘keepers’ from all over the world learn about the Gallery’s paintings and curate their own art collections.
Visitors will be challenged to accomplish their quests and rise through the ranks from Apprentice to High Keeper. Throughout the experience, they will be mentored by the character of the Keeper of Paintings from the National Gallery.
The use of the Roblox platform builds on research for the National Gallery’s first immersive augmented reality (AR) app The Keeper of Paintings and the Palette of Perception, available at the Gallery now and created with the help of over 80 children in time for this year’s Easter holidays. This free mobile-based experience uses augmented reality technology to encourage children to explore the Gallery and learn about its paintings.
The new Keeper Council experience on Roblox was co-created with children working with Arcade, the National Gallery and researchers from StoryFutures at Royal Holloway, University of London and Brunel Design School.
Research for both projects was informed by a dedicated Children’s Advisory Group including school children from London, Brighton, Bournemouth, Brighton, and Folkestone and, London who were consulted throughout and have helped devise and test the app and the Roblox experience..
Developed through the pandemic, the project utilised Roblox as a platform for developing ideas with the children remotely. As children played and shared, the platform became an integral way for the project team to enable children to enjoy the National Gallery’s content off-site - taking the magic of immersive storytelling beyond the Gallery’s walls and into children’s homes.
Lawrence Chiles, Head of Digital at the National Gallery, London, says: ‘We are always looking to extend the opportunity to take the Gallery’s collection to audiences in new and innovative ways. The fact that they can learn about the paintings on a platform they find familiar, fun and engaging is great to see. It takes the Keeper of Paintings into a World of Keepers environment that has huge potential and it’s lovely to now have the characters in both a playful app in the Gallery and within Roblox. The way the project has evolved with the children through the design process is also really special.’
Professor James Bennett, Director of StoryFutures at Royal Holloway, University of London, says: ‘By bringing together established design processes and children’s play on a virtual, 3D platform like Roblox, children were able to effectively influence and co-create the Keeper Council. The result is a truly innovative experience that young people will love, whether they’ve been to the National Gallery before or not.’
Jon Meggitt, Co-Founder of Arcade and Lead Developer, says: ‘We didn't set out to create a Roblox experience, but when we realised how fun and impactful it could be, and how well it would complement the on-site experience, we couldn't help ourselves. We are absolutely thrilled with the way it has turned out, and are grateful to the Gallery for once again showing how progressive and pioneering they are by letting us set this new benchmark in cultural engagement with them. We can't wait for families to meet the Keeper Council and get playing!’
Dr Vanja Garaj, Director of Research at Brunel Design School, Brunel University London, says: ‘Embedding the masterpieces from the National Gallery into a Roblox experience is a truly innovative way of enabling the youngest audiences to learn about the history of art while also enjoying the play. I am very pleased to see our collaborative R&D project with the National Gallery deliver such a bold immersive learning experience.’
For more information, visit nationalgallery.org.uk
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Notes to editors
The Keeper Council
From 19 July 2022
On PCs and Macs
This experience is for visitors aged 7+ and their families.
Roblox is a free online platform that is reimagining the way people come together to connect, create, and express themselves through immersive, interactive shared experiences. Every day, millions of people around the world play, learn, communicate, and expand their friendships as they explore millions of user-generated digital experiences on the platform. Roblox applies strict chat filters to block inappropriate chat, and a suite of Account Restrictions settings that parents can use to restrict who children can interact with, what experiences they can access, and how much they can spend. Parents are encouraged to visit Roblox’s Safety and Civility pages for more information on the platform’s resources and tools.
The Keeper Council 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.
Commissioned through StoryFutures open innovation process, the National Gallery invited companies to collaborate with its education, digital and curatorial teams in working with children to find immersive approaches to the Gallery’s collection.
StoryFutures’ open innovation process has previously been used with the National Gallery to create Virtual Veronese - the Gallery’s first VR experience for adults - as well as dozens of innovation projects with the likes of Discovery Channel, Heathrow, the BFI, the BBC, Coventry City of Culture and UnBoxed: Creativity in the UK.
The experience was created by Arcade (https://arcade.ltd), 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.
About the Arts and Humanities Research Council
The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), part of UK Research and Innovation, funds internationally outstanding independent researchers across the whole range of the arts and humanities: history, archaeology, digital content, philosophy, languages and literature, design, heritage, area studies, the creative and performing arts, and much more. The quality and range of research supported by AHRC works for the good of UK society and culture and contributes both to UK economic success and to the culture and welfare of societies across the globe.
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