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The National Gallery recreates famous artworks in Roblox

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By Chris Sutcliffe | Senior reporter

July 19, 2022 | 5 min read

The National Gallery has recreated some of its most famous artworks on Roblox.

The free ‘metaverse’ experience is designed to broaden interest in the National Gallery’s collection, in addition to allowing users to curate their own virtual art collections and complete in-experience quests.

The Keeper Council was designed with the gaming aspects of Roblox in mind, with in-experience tasks and requests that echo those of other games and build up to an in-game reward.

The Keeper and Claws experience within the National Gallery's metaverse

The National Gallery is the latest organization to launch a collection of art in the metaverse / The National Gallery, StoryFutures

Other effective and popular Roblox worlds that champion brands, including Nikeland and WimbleWorld, have also been built.

The experience builds upon The Keeper of Paintings and the Palette of Perception, free mobile-based augmented reality (AR) games to encourage children to explore the gallery and learn about its paintings. The new Keeper Council experience on Roblox was co-created with children working with Arcade (a London-based immersive experience agency), the National Gallery and researchers from StoryFutures at Royal Holloway, University of London and the Brunel Design School.

The painting 'Sunflowers' as seen in the new National Gallery metaverse experience

Lawrence Chiles, head of digital at the National Gallery, London, said: “We are always looking to extend the opportunity to take the gallery’s collection to audiences in new and innovative ways. The fact that they can learn about the paintings on a platform they find familiar, fun and engaging is great to see.

“It takes the Keeper of Paintings into a World of Keepers environment that has huge potential, and it’s lovely to now have the characters in both a playful app in the gallery and within Roblox. The way the project has evolved with the children through the design process is also really special.

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StoryFutures has previously worked with the National Gallery to create Virtual Veronese – the gallery’s first virtual reality (VR) experience for adults. The experience was created by Arcade with the support of a dedicated Children’s Advisory Group.

Jon Meggitt is co-founder of Arcade and lead developer of the new project for the National Gallery. He said: “We didn’t set out to create a Roblox experience, but when we realized how fun and impactful it could be, and how well it would complement the on-site experience, we couldn’t help ourselves. We are absolutely thrilled with the way it has turned out, and are grateful to the gallery for once again showing how progressive and pioneering they are by letting us set this new benchmark in cultural engagement with them.”

It is the latest in a line of metaverse-based galleries and libraries, which seek to democratize access to art via the platform. The Uncensored Library, for instance, is an in-game library built in Minecraft that aims to effectively smuggle censored texts into countries where they would otherwise be banned. Meanwhile, the LGBTQ+ VR Museum is a curated collection of LGBTQ+ art, which can be experienced via VR headsets.

The National Gallery experience is live on Roblox from today.

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