UnlockArt: Cultural Mediation at the Museum Through an Augmented Reality Escape Room
Keywords:cultural mediation, Museum experience, Educational Escape Rooms, Augmented reality, Game design
In the context of a museum, cultural mediation facilitates access to the works of art for the visitors which not always share the culture the pieces of art come from. Tools and resources such as catalogs, guided tours, or the work of the curators are all part of the museum's cultural mediation, which highlights and informs the visitors of the works on display. In this case study we present the game design process and results of UnlockArt, a project developed as a cultural mediation tool at the Museo delle Culture (MUSEC) in Lugano, Switzerland. The project studied and applied the educational escape room format to enhance the museum experience for visitors, and to encourage the younger ones to approach the collection through a ludic activity. By the means of the Star Model (Botturi and Babazadeh, 2020), the project designed an educational escape room for the "JAPAN. Arts and Life. The Montgomery Collection" exhibition, a collection of Japanese objects from the period between the 12th and the 20th century. Educational escape rooms are a format that works well in class, but may be burdensome to apply in a museum, which intrinsically imposes many constraints. Players should be silent, the escape room should always be ready to be played and easy to be rebooted, and it should not impact the exhibition for visitors that wish not to engage in the experience. For this reason, we opted for an augmented reality educational escape room (AR EER) which can be played on tablets. Such approach only requires QR codes placed around the exhibition, which hide puzzles and hints tied to the works exhibited in the museum, and does not need any rebooting phase as the puzzles are to be solved in augmented reality.