Metropolitan Museum of Art launches Roblox augmented reality experience

Image: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Roblox.

Visiting New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art is about to get meta. The museum is launching Replica, a new hybrid experience that allows visitors to “capture” works of art from the collection and show off virtual versions of them on Roblox.

The experience, which includes virtual and augmented reality elements, was designed by the multidisciplinary company UNIT9 and Verizon, in partnership with Roblox, strategy and production company Ode to Joy, and The Met.

How it works. Beginning August 3, visitors to The Met will be able to use the Replica app to scan an array of famous masterpieces with their phones. 

As a result of this action, the user collects a digital version of the artifact, which can then be brought into the Roblox virtual game as a wearable.

The Replica app is currently available for free download on iOS and Android devices.

Hold onto your straw hats. Thirty-seven objects were selected for the experience from the museum’s collection of 1.5 million pieces.

Among the selected objects are van Gogh’s Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat, Armor of Henry II, King of France, the Statuette of Anubis (from 332-30 B.C.) and the Japanese Helmut (Zukinnari Kabuto) from the Momoyama period.

The pieces are located in over 30 galleries across nine curatorial areas, so it will be a challenge for visitors to “collect ‘em all.”

In-app clues. Inside the app, users will be guided around the museum by clues that appear on a digital map.

Once the objects are scanned by phone, they appear in virtual form in the user’s inventory on Roblox. In the Roblox game, the player’s avatar can then wear and use the digital recreations of the artifacts.

The experience comes full circle when Roblox users can now also visit a virtual recreation of the museum in-game, including The Met’s well-known facade, on Fifth Avenue, as well as the Great Hall and its sprawling staircase.

Why we care. We saw a number of brand activations in Roblox last year, which, in marketing years, seems like back in Tudor times. However, there is currently a lot of AR interest in the art world. Art fans can use their phones as another set of eyes to see art in new, augmented ways.

The Met’s Replica experience appears to be well thought out, enhancing the experience at the museum, while also allowing visitors to extend this experience long after their trip in their digital lives.

Dig deeper: Manifesto for the makers of the metaverse

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