Denman W18 Masthead 2

Headhunt! The NPG’s new app for young art enthusiasts

Bonnie Burns

Many parents can relate to the frustration of kids at galleries who might be unstirred by the artistic treasures around them.

Well, it appears The National Portrait Gallery (NPG) has come up with a nifty solution. The Gallery recently launched an interactive tablet-based app, Headhunt! designed to enlighten children aged 7-15 about the wonders of the space.

Headhunt! combines educational and institute-specific content to encourage children to independently explore spaces in the simplicity of an app that can be used on a phone or tablet device.

“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,” explains the National Portrait Gallery’s Digital Manager, Gillian Raymond.

The app combines analytical and feedback tools to explore and summarise the artistic significance of portraits with features enabling children to later share their journey and findings.

“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 app was developed by Stripy Sock, a Canberra app development agency with an array of platforms to their name such as SBS On Demand and ABC Kids iView.

Stripy Sock’s Managing Director Jake MacMullin is a major advocate for engaging technological platforms for educational purposes.

“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,” he says.

Headhunt! has not gone unnoticed by critics either, receiving a GLAMi (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums innovation) Award in April, as well as being shortlisted as a finalist in the Museums and Galleries National Awards (MAGNAs) to be announced in June.

The app is available for school groups during the school terms and family groups on weekends and school holidays. Find out more here.

Bonnie Burns

Bonnie Burns is a new intern and addition to the HerCanberra team. She’s a Sydney-sider at heart but give her some time and she’ll be throwing around local café and gallery recommendations with the best of them. When she’s not scrambling to get a degree at the ANU, she’s probably out and about in the city, on a walk or huddling beside a heater. More about the Author