We bring history to you

We bring history to you

Benaki Museum and Greek World Expo 2020 AR app

Celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Greek revolution and Greek independence, our Benaki 1821 AR artefacts app allowed IRL museum visitors, and offsite users at home, to interact with over 30 objects from the Benaki Museum‘s collection, including paintings, costumes and weaponry. Try it the Benaki Museum AR app yourself by downloading it for iOS or Android.

Our app was reprised as an AR exhibit at the Greek Pavillion at the World Expo 2020 in Dubai.

200

Years of History

6

Month Exhibition

33

AR Experiences

20,000,000

Visitors

Celebrating 200 years of Greek Independence at the Benaki Museum

From March until November 2021 the Benaki Museum ran its largest exhibition ever. ‘1821: Before and After’ celebrates the Greek Revolution and Greek Independence. Covering 3 floors and featuring over 1200 objects, the exhibition begins by describing life before the Greek Revolution and ends with the creation of the new Greek state and the first forty years of its operation.

There are objects from the Benaki Museum’s own collection, private collections, and international loans. Items include paintings of heroes from the Greek Revolution, their weapons, panoramas of Greece, images of famous buildings, seals, stamps, diadems and more. The exhibition is a real feast for the eyes.

However, the detail of some objects is lost in the low light of the galleries. Some paintings are smaller than you might expect or displayed deep within a diorama which makes it harder to get too close. 

Although the cool, calm of the galleries makes the exhibition a wonderful afternoon out, the atmosphere, sounds and passion of the Greek Revolution are somewhat lost.

We were challenged to bring back the might and glory of the story of Greek Independence, by developing the first Benaki Museum AR app.

Bringing Benaki Museum artefacts from the Greek revolution to life

Working with the exhibition curators, we agreed on 35 collections objects to animate and augment in the Benaki Museum AR app. 

Each floor of the museum is represented in the app by a different section, and features 10-12 unique AR experiences.

We recoloured black and white etchings, added atmospheric soundscapes to painted scenes, created animated sections like adding flying birds or making the eyes and arms of different painted people move, and implemented particle effects which add 3D flames, waves and smoke to warships and battlegrounds. 

We also turned dresses, coats and swords from the exhibition into wearable social media filters. Activated from within the Benaki Museum AR app, the filters open in Instagram or Facebook where visitors can instantly share a historic selfie in a post or their story. 

Furthermore, we wanted to highlight the relationships between objects and help visitors envisage them in action.

We developed 3 experiences during which visitors can get ‘hands on’ through AR by stamping documents or using a telescope to examine paintings.

Similarly, by combining artefacts we were able to draw out their context. For example, we arranged four portraits in AR around a bronze statue of Adamantios Korais showing the angles each image was drawn from. We recreated the ghostly prow of a ship that a wooden figurehead would once have adorned, and enabled Benaki Museum AR app users to place 3D models of a ring and pistol in the air before them to better examine the intricate craftsmanship. 

Finally, we designed a series of minigames which encourage users to interact with the artefacts. This included matching the names of islands with their correct landmass on a printed scarf, or completing a puzzle of a monument in the present day from its historic image.

Through these different AR experiences, users of the Benaki Museum AR app can see these important artefacts from the Greek Revolution through new eyes.

Benaki Museum AR app draws new audiences

Named after the exhibition. ‘Benaki 1821’, the Benaki Museum AR app adds a new layer to the onsite experience and allows people offsite to enjoy each AR experience from any location. 

The Benaki Museum AR app works on Android and Apple mobile devices that support the ARcore and ARkit platforms. The app offers both Greek and English language options to appeal to a global audience. It is available for free on the Playstore and Appstore, or can be downloaded on site at the Benaki Museum from a QR code.

Whilst the Museum already receives an average annual visitor count of more than 500,000, they are keen to create offers that welcome new audiences.

Benaki Museum CEO Mr Haris Siampanis plans to use technology to showcase the exhibition globally. He believes AR is the ‘easiest way to attract younger audiences in our museum and make interesting content.’ For him, the Benaki Museum AR app is a perfect example: ‘That’s the way to tell your story in a very compelling way and in a way that makes sense for global citizens.”

We’re proud of have made the first Benaki Museum AR app, and hope that our digital interpretation of different exhibition items will inspire other organisations to make the most of this exciting technology to engage new visitors.

Furthermore, giving virtual museum access through the World Expo app, we gave people the ability to position these AR artefacts in their own homes – or anywhere they choose. You can hang historic portraits on your wall, learn about the fight for Greek Independence from the comfort of your home, and spend hours playing mini games and using the AR selfie filters.

With such an accessible tool, visiting a virtual museum has never been easier or more fun!

Want to learn how you can use AR in your own work or organisation?

Get in touch and we can advise on the best way to incorporate AR into an exhibition, permanent collection or seasonal offer.