Interactive experience proposal for Whitney Museum of American Art
single project Info


A 3 stage interactive experience proposal for Human Interest: Portraits from The Whitney's Collection Exhibition (April 27,2016- Feb 12,2016) at Whitney Museum of American Art, NYC. Envisioning future of museums, the proposal builds on traditional rituals of sketching in museums and listening to audio stories, to real-time production and exhibition of portraiture and stories of visitors inside the gallery.


Cultural institutions today are grappling with a range of experiential challenges. Museum attendance is actually steady, but guests expect more and more from their visit. At the same time, some audiences view museums as too stuck in the past–and to their physical locations. They want a more democratic institution, and expect the same seamless/open experience they get online. Your challenge will be to choose an area in this realm to focus on, and to create a new way for visitors to engage with a specific museum around a specific exhibition.


Museum : Whitney Museum of American Art, NYC

Exhibition : Human Interest: Portraits from The Whitney's Collection Exhibition

Duration : April 27,2016 - Feb 12,2016


"more than two hundred works in the exhibition show changing approaches to portraiture from the early 1900s until today"

"works included in this exhibition propose diverse and often unconventional ways of representing an individual" "Many contemporary artists confront this situation, stressing the fluidity of identity in a world where technology and the mass media are omnipresent. Through their varied takes on the portrait, the artists represented in Human Interest raise provocative questions about who we are and how we perceive and commemorate others."

The interesting qualities that emerged out of research on portraiture were process, stories and individuality. In order to start thinking about bringing out these qualities in visitors, we went to the exhibition and observed their existing interactions in the museum. The existing ritual of sketching in the museums provided a nice interaction that can be morphed with technology, like when using interactive tables and screens in galleries.

Design + Prototype

We started by creating interactive stations with touchscreens, web camera, microphones and headphones. The mockups of stations and gallery were created from scratch using SketchUp. We then proposed a 3-part interactive experience, to extend/future the museum from contemporary context. The experiential and technical prototypes were custom applications created using InVision and Processing.

1. Process stories

User presses start and is guided to choose any exhibited work in the gallery. Once selected, proper instructions are given for them to be able to trace over/digitally reconstruct the selected work with different colors, brush styles and sizes. When user begins to trace, the corresponding audio story will play, where they will hear a curated process story from the perspective of the artist.

2. User as artist

User is guided into the second stage, where they are asked to take a photo of themselves. The photo becomes the faded background, similar to previous stage, over which user can trace and create their own self-portrait. As they are drawing, they have the option to record their "process thoughts" during or upon self-portrait completion.

3. Real-time exhibition

Each self-portrait submitted by the user will go under review and selected ones will be projected one-at-a-time as a slideshow just as the other works in the gallery. Stations with headphones will be setup for users to hear corresponding audio-stories. The slideshow will be streamed online too.

The user flow was analyzed on both floors of the exhibition and stations were placed accordingly, to make them as non-obtrusive as possible.