The app – or magic window – highlights an important aspect of a work of art or historic object, but then the attention goes straight back to the source material. ‘It’s respectful of the objects and the space,’ says NorthernLight cofounder Peter Slavenburg. ‘It’s an elegant, lightweight companion – not something that gives you extra information you could better absorb at home. The argument could have been to make it all audio, but a short visual experience explains more than 1,000 words.’
The incremental experience begins with a short piece of audio. A visual clue follows, divulging lesser-known details about widely known works. In Johannes Vermeer’s The Milkmaid, for example, an X-ray uncovers more decoration on the background wall, which was later painted over. A third (audio) layer adds extra depth for those who want to know even more.
With over a millions downloads and rentals since its launch in 2013, the Rijks App has been a huge success. The project has also received numerous prizes, including the FIAMP Golden Award and the Heritage in Motion Award.
Earlier this year, the app had a technical and functional makeover at the hands of Fabrique and Q42, and is now going into its second life phase.