March 6, 2019

Hacking Museu d'Art de Girona with Creative Computing. Art Hackathons in museums

This article continues to explore ways to "hack" the art of museums using creative computing. With these activities I intend to give original examples of how to bring art closer to children and families, allowing them to use digital technologies to play, express themselves and reflect collaboratively on what they are seeing/experimenting in the museum.

Specifically, this post explores the idea of "art hackathon", focusing on the Girona Art Museum, and using Scratch as the main tool for the playfulcoding.

In the video above you can see four examples of possible games and interactions with sculptures and paintings inside the museum.

How can we use creative computing and playfulcoding to play/interact/reflect on works of art?

We can create our own artworks inspired by what we see, or we can make elements that are not from the artworks suddenly appear in them, or make elements of the artworks move and change color or shape, or make the artist who created the artwork appear and interact with it, or create a story based on several artworks... The list would be endless. Humor is often a great starting point.

How do we organize an art hackathon in a museum?

There are many possible ways. I think it's interesting that the hackathon happens as part of a visit to the collection or a temporary exhibition. Children, families (or people in general) should be grouped into teams, and a good amount of time should be spent walking, getting to know the art, taking photos, taking notes, sketching, etc. The help of a guide is always valuable in this first part. Afterwards, ideally inside the museum, we should find a space where we can sit down with our team, do brainstorming, and then we can start working with our ideas and start programming by using our laptops (which are often not allowed in museums!). If we use Scratch, it will be useful to have an Internet connection. If we create our projects based on photos taken in the museum (as in the examples in the video) we will also need a mobile phone that can take photos. Take into account that you may not be allowed to take photos in some collections, or if allowed you may need to do it without flash.

The same that I have just proposed above could be done with the public art of a city, a neighborhood, etc. This option usually allows more flexibility than the museum. In next articles I will show some examples in this direction.

The art hackathon at the museum is an ideal activity for families. It can be organized with large or small groups, and can be implemented with the help of the museum or on your own (always respecting all museum rules for visitors, and referencing all the artworks and artists!).

Examples from Girona Art Museum

1. Bringing to life a sculpture.

One fun thing we can do with Scratch is to bring a sculpture (or painting) to life. In this case we added a body to the head. And we turned the eyelids into "sprites", so that we can move them and show the eyes (drawn by us).

2. Adding elements from another context.

In this case we cut out the background of the wooden sculpture and replaced it with a night sky. Then we added some elements from other contexts: the flying Scratch cat, and some Lemmings. Notice that we could turn this artwork into the stage of a game created by us.

3. Create a self-reference by making the artist appear. Modify part of the painting in a different style.

Here we made Santiago Rusiñol (the author of the painting) appear using an image of him painted by Picasso. We used a touch of humor by adding a rabbit and making Rusiñol shoot laser beams through the eyes. We also transformed a part of the painting (the Church of Sant Feliu) by mixing styles and giving it a popart twist.

4. Bringing to life characters from paintings and make them interact.

This last example consisted of giving life to two characters from two separate collages, making one of them enter the other collage, and then make them dance and change color.

The four examples have in common that they are based on photographs taken in the museum, and that in all of them we cut out parts of the photograph in order to eliminate them, move them, or bring them to life. As I said in previous articles, in order to cut out sprites you can use the Scratch paint editor, which is very simple but still powerful enough to play with your photos, or you could use a free and open source software like Gimp, or online editors like Pixlr.


The projects created during the art hackathon will be simply starting points, prototypes, ideas from which to continue creating and learning. We can continue iterating, improving projects and reimagining new ones. What if you make artworks belonging to different museums interact with each other? What if you add interactions with the physical world to your artistic Scratch projects? What if you add music to your creations?

Wanna check my Scratch project to see the scripts? Follow this link. Feel free to remix.


Post a Comment