GLAMi nomination: Lumin

nominated by: A. Andrea Montiel de Shuman, Detroit Institute of Arts, USA
institution: Detroit Institute of Arts
category: Groundbreaking

Lumin is the Detroit Institute of Arts’ (DIA) groundbreaking interactive, mobile tour using augmented reality (AR) and 3-D mapping. The project is a partnership with the DIA, Google and mobile developer GuidiGO, and will premiere to the public on January 25. It uses Tango technology, a set of sensors and computer vision software by Google, to provide visitors with new, in-depth ways to engage with the DIA’s renowned collection. The DIA is the first art museum in the world to integrate this 3-D mapping and smartphone AR technology into a mobile, public tour.

Imagine holding a mobile device up to a 2000-year-old Egyptian mummy to reveal an x-ray view of the skeleton inside. Hold the device up again to an ancient stone relief carving and see the vibrant colors that once adorned the walls of an Assyrian palace. Now use the device to walk through the gates of Babylon, without having to set foot beyond Detroit. These experiences and many more are possible using the DIA’s experimental new mobile tour prototype: Lumin.

The name of the project is derived from the Latin word for “light” (lumen). This refers to the moment of illumination—the spark and magic—that occurs when people have an enlightening experience with a work of art.  The 8 experimental stops on the LUMIN mobile tour will help visitors see the unseen, imagine art in its original context, notice new details, and understand how art objects were once used and experienced in the everyday lives of people from long ago.

Light is also used as a metaphor for finding one’s way. The indoor mapping capabilities of the new devices will help visitors find their way around the DIA’s 130 galleries and public spaces, enabling them to quickly find their way to their favorite work of art, restrooms, DIA restaurants, and the museum shop.

Lumin content was created by the DIA’s interpretive team leveraging GuidiGO’s new augmented reality platform, AR Composer, built specifically for Tango, which allows the user to interact with 3-D animations, information and display directions in the visitor’s field of view.

Stops Design:

Project Big Idea: Digitally transforming the DIA’s galleries creates new ways for visitors to find personal meaning in art

Project Outcomes:

Visitors will. . .

See. . .the DIA’s collection in ways that are not possible with traditional media

Feel. . .that the DIA is an easy and fun place to explore with friends, family, or alone

Do. . . use technology as a tool to look closer and longer at works of art

Think. . .about how the lives of objects extend beyond our immediate time and place


Engagement Types We will test 5 types of digital engagements: Play a Game, See How It Was, See It Work, See the Unseen, and Global Connections. These engagements can be repeated throughout the building and across collections. All stops were developed to align with the existing Big Ideas in each gallery or set of gallery suites.

Play a Game Users will use their devices to seek out details, solve puzzles, or use simple quizzes to unlock sounds and imagery that relate to the artworks.

See How It Was AR overlays, videos, or photographs show visitors what an object looked like in its original condition/context

See It Work AR overlays, videos, photographs, or touch activated engagements help visitors understand how an object was originally used before it was displayed at the DIA.

See the Unseen AR overlays help visitors see details, elements, or parts of objects not normally seen by the public.

Global Intersections  Games, overlays, map connections, and other engagements that help visitors image these works in a global context beyond the DIA


Thunderbird Stop     Purpose: to help visitors connect the power of storms in nature to the symbolic image of the thunderbird, one of the most spiritually significant images for many Plains cultures.

Experience: When visitors find an image related to the thunderbird, they hold up the device and tap it, unlocking a storm sound. Once they unlock all the sounds, a full song written by a member of the Detroit Native American community.


Ishtar Gate Stop Purpose: To help visitors image the inspiration for this sculpture, and imagine it in its original context

Experience: Visitors will match the parts of mushushu to the animal it corresponds with. Once the visitor matches all the parts correctly, a virtual reality view of the Ishtar Gate will appear. Visitors can then explore the gate through the device—almost like they are there.


Assyrian Relief Purpose: to help visitors discover the original colors on the stone relief; dispelling ideas of what ancient sculpture is supposed to look like

Experience: Visitors will hold up their device to the relief and be prompted to tap to reveal the original colors.


Olowe of Ise Vessel Purpose: to help visitors appreciate the incredible skill of the artist by seeing the process from tree stump to finished sculpture

Experience: Visitors will see a three-dimensional recreation of the sculpture emerging from a tree stump. Once the full sculpture is revealed, the head encased behind the figures holding the bowl will move, revealing that it is free-floating. Visitors will then be prompted to explore the meaning of the figures using hot spots on the real object.


Kilga Stop Purpose: to help visitors consider how essential clean water is to urban living by considering the function of these kilgas

Experience: Visitors will see a 3-d recreation of a working kilga complete with dripping water next to the objects.


Cylinder Seal Stop Purpose: to help visitors explore the details of these tiny objects by mimicking how they would be used
Experience: Visitors will see a 3-d, enlarged recreation of one of the seals on display. Visitors can roll the virtual seal with their finger to make an impression, seeing how the seals worked. Then they can explore the details of each seal using hot spots.


Mummy Stop Purpose: to help visitors consider how the DIA cares for these human remains

Experience: A 3-d recreation of the skeleton inside the mummy will overlay right on top of the object, mimicking an x-ray view. Hotspots will appear explaining the conservation process.


Mesoamerican Galleries Purpose: Help visitors understand the complexity and variety of Mesoamerican cultures; there were thousands

Experience: Visitors will see a virtual map on the wall. They will then go on a seek-and-find, looking for DIA objects displayed on the map, carrying the object virtually from the gallery back to the map. Once they find all the DIA objects, a number of objects representing cultures not on view at the DIA will appear, stressing the diversity of south American ancient cultures. (to be completed by summer 2017)