[The portrait miniatures] are rotated
every few months. When we were in
the beginning stages of creating this
activity, we surveyed families
visiting the Museum which ones were
their favorites, and those were the
ones chosen for the app.
Michelle Bastyr, Kohl's Art Generation
Community Relations Coordinator
To make ArtSelfies (and to bring
attention to the Miniatures).
An easy to use selfie generator
within the app.
The public is able to have a
conversation with the museum
and public through social sharing.
186 iPods checked out
on-site by 308 visitors
in the last five months
The museum receives
funding from Kohl’s to
interact with the
encouraging the visitors
to create and share the
selfies, they are having
a “conversation” with
Producers: Sofie Andersen and Miranda Smith
Writer: Sandy Goldberg and Allison Dufty
Voices: PA Vasquez, Barbara Brown Lee, Allison Dufty, Cynthia Marcucci,
Charlie Varon, L Sage, Aiyana Scott, and Charlie Ibsen
Designers: Ray Chi, James Morgan, and Jonathan Levy
Account Managers: Peter Vega and Bella Saltzer
Marketing: Blaire Moskowitz and Jeff Pecor
Senior Director of Education: Brigid Globensky,
Kohl’s Art Generation Relationship Coordinator: Michelle Bastyr
Director of Youth & Family Programs: Emily Sullivan
Hi everybody! This is me. And this is the Smithsonian’s Panda, who is photobombing my selfie.
I work at Antenna - the supplier of museum audio tours and apps worldwide and catalyst for these specific selfies. Today, I’m here to talk about one specific app.
I’m here to talk about Kohl’s Art Generation app that Antenna created for the reopening of the Milwaukee Art Museum.
Let’s go back in time to 2006 to when the first Milwaukee Art Generation app was developed and launched by Antenna. It looked like this!
While the content was engaging, ten years later, the app was looking a bit dated. It wasn’t as playful nor as fun as we could make it today, so we planned on a design update. But that soon grew into something bigger. We really wanted to create something fun for kids and find cool, new, and engaging ways to interact using new functionalities.
We redid the entire app design to reflect the more modern and clean aesthetic expressed by the rebranded Kohl’s Art Generation (which funded the app), using the previously created content. From left to right, you can see the updated splash screen, side swipe reveal menu, two column scroll, and the most important part - the art selfie.
But before we get to the ArtSelfie, I want to talk about something else - Lolcats. Is everyone familiar with Lolcats? It's a web phenomenon that places grammatically incorrect text onto a picture of a cat. These photos are all over the web. They’re silly, and they’re easy to create. There are even websites that put together the text and the image for you. These images embody the idea of the “plausible promise”.
Clay Shirky and Eric Raymond both talk about the concept of Plausible Promise, which has three parts.
Plausible Promise is the individual benefit and meaning that will be derived from working towards a larger goal. In the case of LOLcats, the benefit is personal satisfaction and the goal is, simply put, more LOLcats.
The Tools enable the promise to be possible - The simpler and easier the tools are to use, the more open and accessible the end product will be. So you need to make the tools and the promise fit together. In this case, a LOLcat generator is simple and easy and lowers the bar for community participation.
The Bargain is about the social interaction and neutrality of the participants. On the LOLcats site, it's pretty basic - LOLcats can be sent to other people.
This concept comes down to individuals wanting to easily participate in an online activity which they get something cool as a result.
Which brings us back to the ArtSelfie, which emboldens the participants and their families to be more than just passive museum goers and to easily perform an action. Antenna and the Milwaukee Art Museum had agreed that one of the goals for the project was to “Extend the experience and inspire kids to be creative using the camera functionality.”
One of the new stops on the tour was going to be the miniature portraits collection and we wanted to create something interactive to correspond to the content. The ArtSelfie allows the visitors to insert themselves into a selection of artworks related to the portrait miniature stop.
We were inspired by those silly “stick your face in a hole” stands. Most people know what those are, so therefore it’s easily accessible for participants. We presented the idea to the museum. They liked the idea and let us run with it.
This feature uses the Museum’s collection of anonymous 18th and 19th century portrait miniatures - which are sort of the original selfies. The identities of the people in these portraits have been lost to time so creating an interactive element specific for them brings attention to the individual portraits, if not their actual identities. Kids and adults now look more closely at the portraits and, in turn, be creative themselves.
The app itself has six steps.
Starting the activity shows a selection of portrait miniatures to choose from.
Selecting an artwork shows a full screen image with artist and title information in the upper left.
Tapping the photo icon causes an iOS popup to appear, asking whether to access the camera or the user’s photo library on the device.
Tapping ‘Camera’ on the popup activates the device’s native camera interface. The user can choose to take a photo of a friend or flip the camera to take a selfie.
Once selected, the artwork reappears with a photoshopped hole. Within the hole the visitor will see the photo they just took. Using pinch and swipe gestures, the user can zoom and rotate the image so their face accurately fits in the hole. This pinch and swipe gesture is necessary because people hold the camera at different lengths, especially young children, so a level of maneuvering is needed.
The final composite image with integrated Kohl’s and MAM logos and can be saved onto your own device.
So let’s go back to the idea of “Plausible Promise”.
The promise of the ArtSelfie is - just like with the LOLcat example - to make fun images. But unlike the LOLcats, its goal is to connect the visitors to the art and bring attention to the Miniatures.
The Tools that enable the promise to be possible is the app and selfie functionality itself. By making a simple and easy to use selfie generator within the app, we’ve made open participation possible.
The Bargain is the element of social sharing, either with your social network via the downloadable app or by showing the image to the people you are with at the museum.
And the results…..
The old app was only getting a few downloads a month. November had 17 and December had 23. We launched in January, and you can see a huge spike to 2,381. February and March are still going strong with 510 and 794 respectively. And 186 iPods were checked out on-site by 308 visitors in the last five months.
I also want to mention that the museum receives funding from Kohl’s to reach out to the community and the ArtSelfie contributes to one of the many ways that the museum achieves this. By encouraging the visitors to create and share the selfies, they are having a conversation with the visitors by making the app into a two way medium.
Credit where credit is due - this is the full team that worked on the app. And my favorite Artselfie, of my colleague Maryalice.