Akron Art Museum Launches Interplay: Art Play for All Augmented Reality Experience

Akron – The Akron Art Museum brings interactive and unique art experience to people’s homes with Interplay: Art Play for All, an augmented reality (AR) experience. Free posters, distributed by the Museum and partners, become interactive and changeable when a QR code is scanned with a tablet or smartphone. The artwork, created by Akron-born Adana Tillman, draws on the artist’s roots, but elements can be transformed by the user, effectively blending creativity and community.

This Knight Foundation-funded project originally launched before COVID-19 was meant to have large artist-made posters in public spaces. Faced with the pandemic, the Akron Art Museum team pivoted the project. “The idea of artist-made digital was important to us. But we wanted to be able to give people something tangible to enjoy at home, particularly in a time when many of us can’t convene publicly. It’s nice in this challenging year to give this gift free to our community.” Deputy Director & Chief Experience Officer Seema Rao said.

Users can choose to display their poster, as art, and also enjoy the enhanced digital features if they choose. The web-based AR technology designed by Philadelphia digital firm, Bluecadet, was designed to be intuitive and seamless. By scanning a QR code with a tablet or smartphone, patrons can add elements as well as change the color, effectively transforming the artwork digitally. They can also learn about the artist’s local connections, the inspiration for the elements, and make changes to create their own digital design.

In addition to the fun and playful AR experience, users get a print of a work of art to display in their homes. Adana Tillman conceived the work as a love letter to the city of Akron. Elements in the artwork include important imagery from the city, such as the Goodyear Blimp, and local sights seen from the perspective of the artist.

Ms. Rao said, “We are excited to bring something new and unique into people’s homes since we’ve all been inside for so long. This project will help users engage with the artist’s process of creating as they use their own creativity to manipulate the work and learn more about Akron in the process. This was a great way for us to partner with others and combine technology and art into one.”

The museum will distribute more than 4,000 free art posters to patrons starting in December. During the Museum’s closure, posters will be distributed from local partners such as Mustard Seed Market and Cafe in Highland Square and the Hudson location of Heinen’s beginning on December 28. Throughout the winter, the Museum will announce more distribution sites in January.

“Partnerships make us stronger, and this project was truly a collaborative effort,” Curator of Community Engagement, Reggie Lynch said. “We wanted to create a way for the community to have a more personal, intimate experience with art. It’s wonderful to connect with local businesses. Perhaps, local businesses will gain new customers through this project, and we know we’ll get our artwork into the hands of new patrons.”

Interplay: Art Play for All is made possible with generous support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. For more information on where to pick up a poster, please visit our website akronartmuseum.org