Game collaboration helps Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery to go global in lockdown
19 November 2020
It’s Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery (BMAG), but not quite as you know it! You can now curate your own exhibitions in a virtual BMAG from the comfort of your own home, as Birmingham Museums Trust has embarked on a collaboration with the new online game Occupy White Walls (OWW), making it the first official museum to partner with the AI-driven art platform that allows users to explore a growing fantasy world of art.
Two hundred artworks from Birmingham’s collection of Public Domain images, including some of the city’s most famous Pre-Raphaelite works such as The Last of England by Ford Madox Brown and Proserpine by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, are now available to players in the digital world and can be explored at www.oww.io. As the partnership continues, it is planned to upload the full collection of Birmingham’s public domain images, which are accessible via Birmingham Museums’ online database.
In a year where we are all spending more time at home and museums have closed again due to the latest lockdown restrictions in England, the collaboration means players can discover art from galleries around the world and curate, design and build their own without stepping foot outside.
Created by London-based start-up StikiPixels, OWW currently has over 75,000 users and is looking to expand the online art collection that players can interact with through museum collaborations.
In the game, players collaborate to curate their exhibitions. As their vision is not bound by conventional museum curation guidelines or the physics of a brick and mortar building, players can create environments that combine Renaissance masterpieces with modern art gems or artworks from Birmingham, UK can sit alongside artworks from the USA in displays that would never usually be seen gracing the same wall in the physical world.
While Birmingham Museums is the first collection to officially work in collaboration with the game, public domain artworks from galleries, such as the National Gallery in London and New York’s Metropolitan Museum, also sit within the game’s digital collection ready to be discovered.
As you delve into the cyber world, players can visit an official digital version of Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery (BMAG), inspired by the actual museum but is a playful and creative space. Players can acquire digital copies of any BMAG artworks they find inspiring and build their gallery around those (and others).
For Birmingham Museums, partnering with OWW is another way for people to explore the collection if they cannot physically access it in person. It also opens up data and analytics about how the public engages with the collection on a level never seen before in ‘brick and mortar’ collections.
Linda Spurdle, Head of Digital at Birmingham Museums, said: “Working with such an exciting, forward-thinking company like StikiPixels, which brings art to life in such an innovative way, has been a really eye-opening collaboration. To see gamers from across the world discover and interact with our artworks is exactly the kind of engagement we hoped for when we made our out-of-copyright images available online. We look forward to seeing what the players create.
The pandemic has reinforced the importance of our digital work and ensuring our audiences can still access the collection, even when we are closed. Partnering with Occupy White Walls is just one of the ways we are looking to grow engagement levels with the city’s digital database of artworks and encourage people to explore it and use it creatively.”
OWW is driven by a unique art discovery AI (called DAISY) that learns players’ taste and, over time, helps them discover more art that will resonate with them.
The average player in OWW ‘owns’ a virtual art collection of around 800 artworks. At the same time the AI promotes emerging artists (like BMAG local artist Rosa Francesca who has had over 4,500 copies of her work displayed in over 1,600 player galleries). artists can also upload their works to the platform.
Yarden Yaroshevski, founder and CEO at StikiPixels added: “It was an absolute pleasure working with BMAG on this collaboration. Sadly museums are often slow to adapt as the world changes around them. This was not the case here, as the team in BMAG is enthusiastically and creatively embracing the new opportunities offered by digital technology.
“Through this collaboration BMAG has the potential to increase its global footprint by – literally – orders of magnitude, reaching people around the world who have never heard of the collection (or maybe even of Birmingham). Using the AI that’s at the heart of OWW, they can discover and be inspired by BMAG’s cultural treasures. We look forward to further collaborations with BMAG, other collections and contemporary artists.