Augmenting Masterpieces


Augmenting Masterpieces is a collaboration of the University of Amsterdam and the Rijksmuseum. Johanna Barnbeck, researcher for Augmenting Masterpieces, creates and tests interfaces for the physical and digital collection of the museum.


To get more insights she researched the visitors of the museum. With the results of this research we developed and helped set up an app to create a new experience for the visitors.

Augmenting Masterpieces (by Studio Wim)

Social dynamics in the museum

Instead of looking at the art, Johanna Barnbeck has been closely observing the visitors of the Rijksmuseum. Apparently many do not feel at ease when visiting a museum. Often because they feel like they lack the knowledge to look at art in a certain way and because they do not know how to form an opinion about art. This makes them very aware of their surroundings, without being able to communicate about it in such a silent environment.

Communication through digital applications

Together we came up with the idea making art more accessible by creating an app that gives visitors the possibility to leave their own messages at a piece of art. This would create a social dialog without having to speak directly to the other visitors. Think of the way people place their reaction underneath a picture online, in the same way visitors would now be able to leave their comments and stories at a physical piece of art. 

Contextual information in a physical space

For this concept we placed several Beacons at specific pieces of art in the Rijksmuseum. Beacons send a unique signal that the app will recognize. By using this app the visitors can receive the stories, written or as an audio fragment, which were placed at the piece of art they are standing in front of.

This adds a social aspect to the experience of a visit to the Rijksmuseum. Instead of static information, like the information on sings next to the artwork, the user can look at the art through the eyes of another visitor. They will no longer feel alone with their own thoughts and doubts, but be connected with others through stories. They also might get new insights and see things they had not seen before. 

With the app the visitors can receive the stories, written or in audio, left at the piece of art they are standing in front of.

Adding gamification to the art of the Rijksmuseum

To test different concepts with the use of an app and Beacons we also made a knowledge quiz. The visitors can battle each other and strive for the highest score. Once the app is within range of the Beacon the question about that specific artwork will pop up. After picking an answer the user will immediately be told wether the answer is right or wrong and how the other visitors scored with this question. Visit the Rijksmuseum website