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New app gets kids excited about portraits at the National Portrait Gallery

29 May 2018

Headhunt! Mobile application for families and self-guided school groups
Video: 1 minute 21 seconds

The National Portrait Gallery has officially launched a new digital interactive Gallery experience called Headhunt!, the first app of its kind being used in museums and galleries.

Headhunt! is a tablet-based app for visitors aged 7-15 that encourages children to take the lead and independently explore the Gallery.

Digital Manager at the National Portrait Gallery, Gillian Raymond, was looking for a new way to inspire and excite both children and adults whilst being educational and collection focused.

‘This unique combination of self-directed learning by the participants and the ‘magic’ of what is actually an extremely complex tech build has resulted in an innovative new way for young audiences and their adults to experience our collection,’ said Raymond.

‘Through Headhunt! participants are asked to look closely at the portraits that intrigue them and to delve into the artistic elements of the work and the stories of the people featured. At the end of their exploration, a report is generated containing the content (text, image and audio recordings) created by the participants which is then able to be shared with their teachers, carers or parents during their Gallery visit or as a post-visit activity emailed to the supervising adult.’

‘The ingenious tech build for Headhunt! was created though our partnership with Canberra’s leading app development agency Stripy Sock, who are responsible for, amongst others, the Gallery’s Portrait Stories app, SBS On Demand and ABC Kids iView.’

Managing Director of Stripy Sock, Jake MacMullin, is a strong supporter of developing technologies to enhance learning and engagement.

‘It's been a wonderful working with the National Portrait Gallery to develop Headhunt!. At Stripy Sock we're excited by technology's potential to enhance people's experiences and it has been tremendously rewarding to see children and their teachers using Headhunt! to discover more about the portraits on display,’ said MacMullin.

Headhunt! recently won the Museum-wide guide or program category of the GLAMi (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums innovation) Awards, held at the Museums and the Web conference in Vancouver on 9 April. The app was recognized out of several impressive projects from international museums and galleries, including the Rijksmuseum.

The app has also been shortlisted as a finalist in the Museums and Galleries National Awards (MAGNAs), the winners of which will be announced on June 6.

Headhunt! is available for school groups during the school terms and family groups on weekends and school holidays.

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Ngunnawal people, the traditional custodians of the land upon which the NPG stands.