Pandemic Prototyping and Augmenting the Art Museum


Wednesday, April 07, 2021: 1:30pm - 3:00pm - - Paper Session

Ben Millstein, Local Projects, USA, Eric Mika, Local Projects, USA, Meredith Gregory, , , Ben Millstein, Local Projects, USA

Published paper: Pandemic Prototyping and Augmenting the Art Museum

Norton Art+ is a new augmented-reality (AR) iPad app developed by the Norton Museum of Art in partnership with exhibition designer Local Projects.

The experience invites visitors to explore creative and educational content around six key contemporary artworks in the museum’s collection through unique AR interactions. It goes beyond simply adding a digital layer of didactic material over the artworks by empowering visitors to create in the style of the artists whose work they’re observing.

Concept development began in 2019, before COVID-19 was of widespread concern, and it was decided early in the process that the experience would be designed exclusively for use at the museum, and would run on iPads provided to guests by the Norton (and would not be available through the App Store).

Community and stakeholder input was critical to the development process, and as the realities of the pandemic set in midway through the project timeline, it became clear that initial plans for in-person prototyping and usability testing at the museum would require a rethink.

In this paper, we’ll describe our approach to adapting the development, prototyping, and usability testing process for Norton Art+ across a distributed team of museum professionals, exhibition designers, and community members. We will also explore how Norton Art+’s unique approach to artwork-specific interactions sparks visitors’ interest in the visual and process-driven dimensions of an artist’s work. Finally, we will investigate how this experience can build on two pieces of relevant scholarship from Professor Gal Zauberman of the Yale School of Management, with whom we are planning future studies.

K. Diehl, G. Zauberman, and A. Barasch (2016) “How Taking Photos Increases Enjoyment of Experiences.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 111, No. 2, pp. 119–140. Also available at

D. Ariely and G. Zauberman (2000) “On the Making of an Experience: The Effects of Breaking and Combining Experiences on their Overall Evaluation.” Journal of Behavioral Decision Making J. Behav. Dec. Making, 13: 219-232. Also available at