Augmented Reality (AR) and other gaming technology has made its way into the world’s museums. The British Museum offers an AR scavenger hunt for kids to collect words and digital objects to solve puzzles as they scan specific exhibition objects with a mobile device. The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History has a mobile app that overlays skin onto dinosaur skeletons when kids hold a mobile device over the bones. And now the Cleveland Museum of Art is using both augmented reality (AR) and Kinect natural motion technology to let visitors interact with and create immersive art experiences.


ArtLens 2.0 (initially launched three years ago) is their AR app that uses image-recognition software to recognizes a selection of two-dimensional artworks. The app then provides additional curatorial and interpretive content of the piece. The artwork can be scanned from as far as 50 feet away which gives visitors the chance to review facts on the piece and gather information before they even approach the artwork.

ArtLens users have access to the most current and comprehensive information about every piece of artwork in the museum. Galleries are also color-coded and grouped thematically to facilitate easier navigation and easier identification of areas of interest.

“The most significant distinction between the ArtLens and almost every other museum app available today is the fact that every item on display in the museum is included in ArtLens; every item, every gallery, everywhere in the museum,” said Jane Alexander, Chief Information Officer, Cleveland Museum of Art. “From the education lobby to the special exhibitions to the sculptures outside, any item that catches the visitor’s eye may be accessed through the app and any changes in the displays or any changes in the information about the art on display are automatically updated in the ArtLens database in real time.”

Moving into the gaming world, the Museum created Studio Play. Think immersive gaming but for art.

Studio Play is a suite of experiences that lets visitors connect with the artwork in the museum as well as to the creative process of making the art via customized Kinect technology originating from the Xbox. The museum worked with Design I/O, which creates interactive installations, to customize software that utilized 3D Kinect depth cameras in new ways to augment and enhance the visitor experience.