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Children Help Create a Magical AR Family Trail for the National Gallery

The National Gallery has launched its first immersive augmented reality (AR) app created with the help of over 80 children in time for the Easter holidays. 

The Keeper of Paintings and the Palette of Perception is a free mobile-based experience that uses AR technology to encourage children to explore the Gallery and learn about its paintings.   

Young Gallery visitors are asked to help guide a fictitious Keeper of Paintings to find a lost ‘Palette of Perception’ – a magical object with special gems that gives them ‘powers’ – to engage with the paintings digitally. As they move through the Gallery responding to the app’s story, a new digital world is revealed where visitors can solve puzzles, find hidden secrets, and collect the gems connected to the paintings. 

The app is available to download on 11 April 2022  for free on iOS and Android stores.

This child-led experience takes place in the National Gallery, London but also, through augmented reality, a wider imagined world of Keepers where a group of magical beings who help care for some of our world’s most precious objects. The Keeper of Paintings app is suitable for ages 7–11 and launches at the National Gallery in April. It is available to download for free on iOS and Android stores. 

The experience was created and developed by London-based immersive experience agency Arcade and commissioned by the National Gallery and project partners from Royal Holloway, University of London, and Brunel Design School, Brunel University, London. They worked alongside a dedicated Children’s Advisory Group and school children from Folkestone, Kent, who were consulted throughout the development and have helped devise and test the app.

Lawrence Chiles, Head of Digital at the National Gallery, London, says: ‘It’s fantastic that we are able to launch our first dedicated app for children that creates a new perspective on the paintings at the National Gallery. It’s a rich experience and it’s been such a rewarding process to co-design it with the children that have been involved. Arcade, the children and all the partners involved have created something really magical.’ 

Professor James Bennett, Director of StoryFutures at Royal Holloway, University of London, says: ‘The National Gallery and Arcade have taken on a massive innovation challenge to think about co‐designing with children international formats for immersive experiences and The Keeper of Paintings is an amazing result that will thrill children and families. This project shows what can be achieved in linking great storytelling with innovative new immersive technologies. Perhaps the most exciting thing is that the story of The Keeper of Paintings has only just begun.’  

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