How do you get people hooked on visiting art galleries and museums at an early age? The Bureau of Culture for the German city of Mönchengladbach ( Kulturbüro Mönchengladbach ) has this problem to address within its remit to develop educational programs for young folk in the area. The city might be best known outside Germany for its successful top tier football club Borussia Mönchengladbach, but it also has an exciting and thriving avant-garde contemporary art scene centered around its postmodern design Abteiberg Museum.
So what idea did they come up with to get young people as enthusiastic for visiting the Abteiberg as they are for Borussia-Park stadium, and how did it involve VR agency "Die Weltenweberei", drones, and a virtual escape room?
Escape from The Museum
In the Autumn of 2018 the Bureau of Culture devised a number of multi-disciplinary workshops aimed at the young people of Mönchengladbach aged 15-21. The main workshop was to build a live escape room in the backrooms of Abteiberg Museum. If you are not familiar with the concept, this is where you are locked in to a series of rooms, and to get out you need to first solve a number of puzzles. Whilst this was being fiendishly built, over at the local VHS (adult education centre) other workshops were creating a VR puzzle for the escape room, and a drone was being used to take aerial photos and video of the Mönchengladbach cityscape. The final component was a workshop at the central library composing music using a mobile-phone app that would become a thrilling soundtrack to the great escape.
It was then planned to bring all the components together into a VR game and virtual museum walkthrough that could be launched at the project’s closing party.
Can This Puzzle Be Cracked?
It was an exciting project involving diverse technology guaranteed to stimulate the imaginations of the participants, but the puzzle was how to actually realize it.
The Kulturbüro needed software to produce the VR app that didn’t involve coding and could be operated by the young participants. The alternative would be to bring in someone to program the VR app for them, but that would be too costly and the process too elaborate to realize. Plus the whole point is for everyone to be involved in the creative process; bringing in an expert would have excluded the youngsters from their endgame.
They clearly needed a simple software solution.