We’re proper into museums. Not in a weird way, they just hold so much stuff inside to play with and explore. The amazing exhibitions and collections, when they hit that inspiration point, still only scratch at the surface of the deep well of connections and histories.

The web is changing that, but the web is something that museums aren’t – fast. Museums by their nature are slow and cautious. Slow so they don’t miss anything. Cautious so nothing breaks. Maybe.

The Victoria & Albert Museum (you know, that big one in South Kensington, London) are holding a Web Weekend to engage their Friday Late and weekend visitors with things that the web can do that they might not know about. We’re very proud to have been invited to add to the weekend.

We’ve got two things in there. They’re both web-based, but only one is manifested physically. Here’s an early version of it:



Chromaroma by Matt Watkins on Vimeo.

It’s a re-jig of all the journey data played out in Chromaroma since our launch. There’s more than 150,000 swipes in there. Visitors to the museum control where they want to explore in London via an iPad. When a visitor clicks on points on the London Underground map in front of them, the visualisation zooms to that location and shows all the journeys firing through. As well as wanting to re-use our Chromaroma data, we also wanted to experiment with a new web technology – Unity. The original Chromaroma visualisation, found on the game now, is built in Flash.

Unity is really interesting to us, both as a tool and a company. Their main mission is to “democratize game development” via an accessible tool that’s got the broadest platform coverage.

So the Chromaroma Remix is both an experiment in a new web technology, and a visual exploration into how a web-based game can engage travellers as they travel by offering missions and awarding points, and also after the fact via visualisations. We’re pretty sure that a version of this will be embedded in the V&A website very soon.

The folks at the V&A also asked us if we could make a game for visitors to play. Now, we think about museums and games a lot. It’s not an easy problem to solve. Ideally, we’d love to work with the online Collections, linking them to a simple puzzle or treasure hunt game. Something with broad reach. Unfortunately we had neither the time nor budget to do something like that, so instead we’re taking the opportunity to try something simple out – SCVNGR.

We’ve been playing with SCVNGR a lot. I’ve been using it to prototype some audio-tour/locative storytelling stuff. It’s got promise. A lot of museums are using it, so we thought we’d give it a go at the V&A.

There are ten tasks to complete – one in each of the ten first rooms that you come to from the Grand Entrance.

What’s going to be interesting is to see the take-up of a locative experience by a very broad demographic of people, with links to SCVNGR and instructions on printed material around the museum. It’s not often you get to test something in an environment like that.

The Web Weekend line-up as a whole is fantastic, and we’re honoured to be a part of it. If you make it to the V&A Museum this weekend have a play on our things and let us know what you thought.

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