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MUNCH and Arcade

When MUNCH wanted an immersive digital experience for school children across Norway, its search for collaborators started with Digital Catapult.

Digital Catapult created a match with Arcade, specialists in immersive technology, with the core company mission to connect people to place through play, harnessing augmented reality to bring about greater engagement.

The connection to places is deep-rooted in Arcade. Two of its founders studied architecture, before advances in digital technology inspired them to create the successful digital agency FUSE. When the business was later sold to the Interpublic Group, the team took the opportunity to reflect. How could they take their expertise and connect it to their passion – combining digital experience with physical space?

Arcade was created with a clear vision – to use the power of technology to bring people back into the moment. When technology connects to a brand, retail environment, classroom or a heritage location, the same technology that enables the interaction can often take users out of the moment to another world, like social media. The team realised that augmented reality was the perfect tool to help people reengage.

As a manifestation of this mission, Arcade developed the platform proposition Playable Places and became one of ten businesses chosen to join Digital Catapult’s Augmentor Programme in 2018.

MUNCH, Digital Catapult and Arcade collaborate to develop an inspiring art experience for school children.

Dedicated to the work and life of the artist Edvard Munch, MUNCH collection includes 26,000 artworks created by the artist. A pioneer of Expressionist art, Munch is best known for his iconic artwork The Scream and his Frieze of Life series, part of the complete collection he bequeathed to the city of Oslo on his death in 1940.

With a strong focus on digital experiences, MUNCH wanted to reach out to school children across Norway, especially those who were unable to visit a museum near home. MUNCH had a strong creative vision in mind – the solution needed to be free, nationally available and accessible for schools. Additionally, the museum saw a strong need to actively involve the solution’s target users and stakeholders in its concept and development phase. The challenge was to find the right collaborator.

Working with Digital Catapult, MUNCH planned to host a series of design workshops and narrow down partners for this project. Instead, with Arcade, they found an immediate match.

The result was the MunchMunch mobile app. Created for school children aged between 9 and 11, the app encourages students to engage with Munch’s unique creative process, while exploring their own artistic direction. The app has undergone continuous testing sprints at primary schools throughout Norway, in collaboration with and relating to the differentiated needs of teachers and pupils in a vast range of districts and municipalities.

The experience features a digital tutorial, followed by a hand drawing exercise which is then transformed into augmented reality. Rather than using a display feed, like Instagram, the students are surrounded by the artwork in a virtual gallery. They can detach each other’s work and bring it into their own space to make changes and create effects or they can scroll through iterations of their own artwork to view its transformation.

Driving artistic creativity and self-confidence.

Although Munch was often criticised for his work seeming unfinished, the MunchMunch app focused on artistic expression without the need for perfection.

“This world of Instagram beauty is really damaging for our kids, both boys and girls, growing up having to respond to this photoshopped image,” explains Jon Meggitt, co-founder and CEO of Arcade.

“The beauty of Munch’s work is that it often looks unfinished and actually it doesn’t matter. There’s not this perfect end goal. We want kids to understand it’s okay for things to be unfinished and you shouldn’t be striving for perfection.”

The MunchMunch app featured as a nominee in the 2020 Art Explora – Académie des beaux-arts European Award.

For MUNCH, the collaboration with Digital Catapult and Arcade was a rewarding experience.

“Our ambitions were high, so we are absolutely delighted that we ended up with a company that was very experienced and great for this project.” Explained Elise Kaspartu, Digital Innovation Project Manager at MUNCH.

“It’s been a great experience having Digital Catapult on board, both as a facilitator and collaborator. They also brought clarity to the process, it’s like a safety net having them involved.”

While the new MUNCH museum dominates the Oslo skyline, plans are in place for the launch of the app. Supported by Sparebankstiftelsen DNB, the MunchMunch app will be delivered through the Cultural Rucksack, a national programme for arts and culture for all students in Norwegian primary and secondary schools, ready for the school programme in August 2021.

Throughout 2020 Arcade continued its partnership with Digital Catapult developing immersive AR projects for the Kielder Water and Forest Park Development Trust, along with the Kielder Observatory.

In the future, Arcade plans to grow as an agency, looking at the activity in retail and the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector, with a focus on WebAR. For Arcade, the passion for arts & culture continues with its new platform Storyality, which the company plans to start licencing to the arts & culture sector in the coming year.

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