In 2012 Art Processors partnered with the State Library of New South Wales to develop an interactive application that visitors can use on their own smartphones to access little-known stories about the extraordinary objects held within the collection. We call this project “Curio,” a modern digital cabinet of wonders to peak Library-goers’ curiosity.
This project was initially seeded as part of the New South Wales State Government Collaborative Solutions program–an opportunity for government agencies to partner with young companies and industry partners. Following the successful completion of the Collaborative Solution phase, further steps for the project were funded as part of the Library’s ten-year, $55 million dollar digital audience engagement and systems technology upgrade. Art Processors has been involved with this ambitious project in all phases, including research, mobile application development for a single location, and the planned expansion of the project to other locations within the library system and the city itself.
The Library conducted research on the return on investment offered by digital initiatives and decided that they would develop a smartphone application to increase their public reach. Art Processors was brought on as the digital strategists to create and implement this project. Our task was to create a mobile application that offered visitors access to information in and about the Library’s oldest building, the 106-year-old Mitchell Library.
During the Collaborative Solutions phase of the project, Art Processors led a research consortium consisting of the Library, Samsung Electronics, and HP. The latter two groups were responsible for providing hardware and offering specialist technical assistance for the project. We conducted a study with Library staff and visitors to look at ways the visitor could connect further with elements of the Library’s collection and history by using a mobile application. The results from this study formed the foundation of our project, which was launched to coincide with the opening of a new Gallery space within the Mitchell Library.
The Mitchell Wing is a heritage-listed building, so it was a key requirement to provide a technological solution that delivers rich interpretive materials about the building and objects it contains, and to do so without traditional printed signage or permanent structural changes. Art Processors drew on technologies developed for the Museum of Old and New Art to satisfy this requirement.
With the Curio app, interesting facts, surprising stories, and multimedia content about nearby objects and architectural features are instantly available to visitors. As a direct result of this project, we developed a few great new project tools: a natively written Android application managed through a web-based content management system (used to publish to both Android and iOS devices) and a Bluetooth LE powered solution that provides indoor location to iOS devices (a first of its kind upon launch in March 2013).
The Library wanted to reduce the demand for device management, which led to our development of Curio as a BYOD (bring your own device) application available for free download to iOS and Android devices.
The success of the Mitchell Wing-based application led the Museum to request an expansion of the project into the remainder of the State Library’s main campus. This expansion connects the gallery space to the resources available in the five floors of research library directly adjacent to the original building.