Who hasn’t imagined themselves stepping into the landscape of a van Gogh or a Monet?

Night Kitchen’s team Day Bakers won the People’s Choice award for Dreamscapes, an app that invites visitors to unlock 3D-enhanced works of art and explore the immersive VR environments they inspire. When the Philadelphia Museum of Art announced their Dina Wind Power of Art Hackathon 2.0, the Night Kitchen team signed up and produced Dreamscapes.

We approached the hackathon with the goal of using AR and VR to cultivate visitors’ real space engagement with the museum’s collection and environments. The app rewards visitors for engaging with their favorite artworks on the first floor and encourages them to venture deeper into the galleries on the second floor. We created a site-specific mixed reality experience that entices players to explore the museum’s collection by transforming the spaces around them in playful and compelling ways.

Visitor Experience

Using the iPad app, visitors search the galleries for paintings that have inspired Dreamscapes, Virtual Reality (VR) panoramic transformations of the museum’s architectural spaces. When visitors “collect” a painting in the first floor galleries, they are rewarded with a 3D “diorama” that overlays the artwork using Augmented Reality (AR). By moving the iPad around, visitors can observe details and perspective, encouraging exploratory close-looking.

As visitors collect paintings they unlock VR spaces on the second floor, encouraging them to explore less-trafficked areas of the museum. To experience an impressionist-inspired eastern setting, a visitor collects Monet’s Japanese Footbridge that unlocks the Japanese Tea House. To enjoy an immersive cascade of post-impressionist form, visitors collect Cezanne’s The Bathers and visit the Pillared Temple Hall. The experience is nonlinear and can be enjoyed as a visitor naturally explores the galleries. By bringing the paintings and spaces to life, the app encourages visitors to draw connections between objects in the collection and engage in conversation about artistic styles, content and techniques.


We’re very proud of the reactions of our first unbiased playtesters! We were testing the AR targets on-site when a few curious Museum visitors wandered up and asked what we were doing. Upon seeing Cezanne’s The Bathers expanded into 3D, they yelped with glee, then started commenting about the poses and texture of background characters. When we showed off the app in the Japanese Tea House, our playtesters immediately picked up the architectural similarities between the space and Monet’s Japanese Footbridge inspiration. This preliminary testing suggests the app accomplishes our goal of engaging visitors with the space itself, using the iPad as an enhancement, rather than a distraction. We continue to engage in playtesting as we make improvements.

What’s Next

One awesome feature we are exploring is the integration of hotspots to support additional content within the AR and VR experiences. Content embedded in hotspots can encourage deeper looking and provide a better understanding of the artwork and architecture. We’ve integrated Gimbal beacon-based location awareness and we are updating it to support iBeacons. With beacons, the app can notify visitors when game experiences are nearby, allowing them to put aside the device while enjoying the museum.

We’re currently collaborating with our partners on projects that integrate AR and VR to support their goals. If you would like to see a demonstration of Dreamscapes, let us know!

NOTE: This app was developed at the Dina Wind Power of Art Hackathon hosted by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and is not a product of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Access to the museum’s artwork and spaces was granted in concordance with the hackathon guidelines.