During the Pokémon Go craze, some museums plotted to lure in players by hyping up their usefulness as PokéStops. But Cuseum has found another way to integrate augmented reality with cultural institutions. It partners with museums to create AR apps that supplement the museum-going experience. Most recently, it teamed up with Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) and artist Felice Grodin to create four location-based AR artworks for viewing at various spots in PAMM’s gallery space. The exhibit is called Invasive Species, and it will run through April 21, 2018.
Cuseum CEO and founder Brendan Ciecko says that it’s worked with over 100 museums, creating apps that complement existing exhibits by displaying animations or additional information over artwork.
“Every museum has a slightly different goal or vision in mind when it comes to experience, especially when it comes to AR,” said Ciecko in an email to GamesBeat. “In the case of Perez Art Museum Miami, the museum embarked on an artist-driven approach where AR acts as the new medium and channel for distribution. This means producing entirely new artistic works and delivering them in a way that most visitors haven’t experienced before.”
Grodin’s exhibit explores idea of climate change and geophilosophy, a school of thought that investigates how mental and physical space interact. One piece, “Terrafish,” features exotic jellyfish-like creatures, presenting the viewers with fauna that’s unexpected in their current environment.
“With AR, [Grodin] was essentially given a new type of canvas to explore these themes and experiment with the spatial elements with full creative license,” said Ciecko.
Ciecko says that the number of users for each app differs among the museums he works with. At some institutions, up to 25 percent of visitors are using its app for a guided experience. For a lot of visitors, it’s their first brush with AR.
“With any new technology, there are challenges — and surprises! — on the technical, design, and usability side,” said Ciecko. “On the technical side, notwithstanding its many triumphs, we must acknowledge that ARKit has only been around for a few months – versus a full year out in the wild. Like any great framework, it continues to evolve.”
Along with the AR apps it’s developed, Cuseum recently rolled out a digital membership card meant to help visitors and museum members keep track of things like exhibition schedules and discounts. It’s looking for other ways to fuse technology with the museum-going experience, and it plans to roll out more products next year.
Cuseum isn’t the only company interested in the intersection between art and technology. Earlier this year, Google opened up its Tango AR platform to museums like the Detroit Institute of Arts. And artists have experimented with AR before, taking over spaces like New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Still others, like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, are experimenting with 360-degree video.
“Anything that gets the broader public excited about museums and culture is a big win — and if people’s first interaction with AR takes place within the lens of culture, that’s something we can all be proud of,” Ciecko said. “These new technologies influence not only how culture is displayed and consumed, but also how it is produced.”