ith COVID-19 restrictions in flux, London’s major art museums have teamed up to share works with the public and to entice visitors back inside by using augmented reality.

Organisations including the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery and the Royal Academy of Arts collaborated on the project to create the Augmented Gallery, an interactive AR app which takes users on a walking trail of 20 historic and contemporary pieces visible by smartphone. 

The National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery and the Royal Academy of Arts as well as the British Museum and the Tate, are among those that are open, allowing visitors in reduced numbers who must reserve tickets beforehand to adhere to social distancing measures.

The Augmented Gallery takes users on a walking trail which stretches across the centre of the city, from west of Piccadilly Circus to east of Leicester Square, starting at the National Gallery and ending outside the Royal Academy.

Art Of London Gallery

To access the AR art, the user simply needs to download the free Art of London AR Gallery app, and once they’ve arrived at one of the art locations, scan the QR code attached to the exterior walls along the way. Once activated, users can see and hear details about older oil paintings like Anthony van Dyck’s “Equestrian Portrait of Charles I” and Vincent van Gogh’s “Sunflowers,”. 

There are also more contemporary pieces like Tracey Emin’s acrylic work “Trying to Find You 1.” Also included in the experience are works by winners and finalists in the Sky Portrait Artist of the Year competition that capture personalities like the American musician Nile Rodgers by Christabel Blackburn or the English actress Elaine Paige by Toby Michael.

To date the experience is proving extremely popular with one user stating:

“I’d walked around here and seen these squares in a number of places… And today I went, ‘OK, I’ve got to find out what this is because it looks interesting.’ So I downloaded the app and I’m loving it.”
Jun 21, 2021
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