Digital innovation at the Art Gallery of NSW

Art Sets. Image: courtesy Art Gallery of NSW.

Art Sets. Image: courtesy Art Gallery of NSW.

The Art Gallery of New South Wales has three new innovative digital projects created to provide new ways for visitors to experience and interact with collections and exhibitions.

Art Sets and Art Tours

Ever been awed by a painting you saw in an art gallery and wished you could share it with friends to discuss later? Now you can. In 2015, the Art Gallery of NSW launched two new and free digital tools to complement the whole gallery experience; Art Sets and Art Tours.

Visitors can access over 30,000 artworks from the Gallery’s collection, hundreds of videos, audio and blog posts using Art Sets, organise it online on a personalised page using custom text and layouts, and share these across multiple social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

Art Sets can encourage more people to appreciate art because it lets them tailor the content to their interests. Such tools also help to make art more accessible for people who can’t visit the actual gallery and see/access many of the works that are not currently on display. The Gallery typically only has about 5% of its vast collection on display at any one time.

Art Tours enable visitors to create personalised tours around the gallery based on their interests or choose from a list of works that are currently on display at the Gallery. Art Tours can be easily accessed by visitors on their smartphones and the artworks are automatically linked to a map and any available video or audio. The Art Gallery of NSW has recorded over 2000 sets and tours created since the launch.

Art Gallery of NSW Director Michael Brand said, “Art Sets and Art Tours offer arts lovers of all ages the opportunity to handpick artworks that interest them and create their own stories. That is what makes these tools so powerful. Whether visiting us in person or online, people will be able to navigate and interpret the art in a manner that is uniquely meaningful to them.”

Conversations App

The gallery also offers a free Conversations app containing expert audio which can be downloaded on smartphones and tablets. It’s a key feature of a current exhibition, Conversations through the Asian collections, voiced by Justin Paton, head curator of international art at the gallery.

The Conversations App. Image: courtesy of the Art Gallery of NSW.

The Conversations App. Image: courtesy of the Art Gallery of NSW.

An augmented-reality installation Pure Land: inside the Mogao Grottoes at Dunhuang literally puts a visitor ‘in the shoes’ of an archaeologist exploring one of the UNESCO World Heritage listed ‘Caves of the thousand Buddhas’ for a new exhibition titled Tang: treasures from the Silk Road capital opening on 9 April 2016.

With innovation in digital media and the demand for a more interactive experience by customers visiting physical bricks-and-mortar places, the art gallery experience is set to achieve new heights.


The NSW Arts and Cultural Policy Framework: Create in NSW supports the State Cultural Institutions and sets in place programs to encourage their growth and expansion. For further information on key actions relating to innovation and supporting the development of digital platforms, please download a copy of Create in NSW

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Published: 18 February 2016