Art Forest: The Surprise and Delight of a “Game” made with Museum APIs

Lightning Talk

Friday, April 30, 2021: 12:30pm - 2:00pm - - Lightning Talk

Jeff Steward, Harvard Art Museums, USA

In 2019 the Department of Digital Infrastructure and Emerging Technology at Harvard Art Museums (HAM) started building the Art Forest: a simple, semi-immersive interactive experience for a late night event at the museum. At the time, the intention was to introduce visitors to our collections as data by showing them a creative, exploratory reimagining of our art objects. We used the HAM application programming interfaces (APIs) to grow an algorithmically generated forest based on each visitors interaction with our collections data. Since 2019, the experience has morphed in to a browser-based “game” that is part classic text adventure game, part point-and-click adventure game, and part walking simulator. During this lightning talk I’ll discuss the origin of the project, the technical underpinnings (e.g., it uses the open standard IIIF so other collections can be written into the game), and the next phase of the game.