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portrait of Camille Tenneson

Camille Tenneson

Former Editorial & PR Officer , Europeana Foundation

The image recognition app Vizgu launches with SMK - The National Gallery of Denmark to provide instant art info

The National Gallery of Denmark (SMK) collaborated with a group of Danish developers to release Vizgu, an app that comes up with related art information - descriptive text and audio - whenever a visitor points his smartphone at an SMK painting. Jonas Heide Smith, Head of Digital, tells us more about this innovative visitor guide which launched in September.

image by Jonas Heide Smith, Flickr

What was the museum's role in the development of the app?

We have been mostly involved in supplying data and discussing logistics. When we first started talks with Vizgu, they were at the late prototype stage, and were very responsive to our suggestions and requirements. We were the largest ‘content partner’ at the time of launch.

How many artworks can be seen through the app? What material does it give access to?

Pretty much every single artwork on display at SMK - including sculptures - can be scanned. But the amount of information varies a lot. The most extensively described artworks will have an official image, core metadata, a text description, an audio guide file and links to further info. Oh, and for works without official audio files, you can get a nice robot reading the text, allowing you to keep your eyes on the art. It is only available in English for now,  as Danish machine readers are not too literate yet.

Jonas Heide Smith, Flickr

All images are stored in the app's database. Are there other content partners involved?

Vizgu has also teamed up with CCA Andratx, a contemporary art center in Mallorca - and they have ongoing talks with other institutions. The data clearly calls for linking, to allow visitors to access other museums’ collections, but the details are still being considered.

How does Vizgu differ from traditional ways of using the museum?

We see it as an opt-in layer which broadens the range of ways to use the museum and its collection. Using your phone, you can choose to study background material while sitting down (instead of standing by a wall), or even bring it home to go in-depth from your couch. It doesn’t change things radically, but it adds a great deal of new flexibility.

What is the connection between Vizgu and the SMK Open Project?

In a way, the Vizgu collaboration is ‘core’ SMK Open. We want to turn the museum into a platform by supplying data for others to use and build upon. And that’s exactly what Vizgu has done. So it wasn’t one of our planned SMK Open products, but it’s exactly the kind of thing we’ve been hoping would happen!

by Camille Tenneson

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