The Keeper of Paintings

Immersive AR at the National Gallery, London

The Keeper of Paintings and the Palette of Perception is a free mobile-based experience that uses AR technology to encourage children to explore the Gallery and learn about its paintings.

Young Gallery visitors are asked to help guide a fictitious Keeper of Paintings to find a lost ‘Palette of Perception’ – a magical object with special gems that gives them ‘powers’ – to engage with the paintings digitally. As they move through the Gallery responding to the app’s story, a new digital world is revealed where visitors can solve puzzles, find hidden secrets, and collect the gems connected to the paintings.

Cutting Edge AI

Powering the experience is a custom built AI ‘archive engine’. Using computer vision techniques, the app is able to instantly recognises the paintings. Not only does this provide a smooth and engaging user experience, but it also frees up the kids to choose any room in which to continue their quest, giving them agency and control of their adventure.

To further simplify the user experience, the painting detection and AR elements are seamlessly integrated into a chat interface through a ‘Keeper’s Eyeglass’.

No Screen Time

AR is an extremely powerful way to connect people to place, but it needs to be used sparingly. In all of our projects we keep our focus on fostering interaction between the user, the place they are in and the people they are with.

At strategic points in the user journey, we introduce Keeper Skill Cards, which effectively time the app out whilst providing the child with a relevant task for the current room (eg ‘Discuss your favourite painting with your grown-up’). The Keeper even advises that they put the device away for a bit!


We engaged the services of Open Inclusion, the inclusive research and solutions consultancy. Following on-site user testing with groups of children with disabilities, they empowered us with insights and actions which, by implementing as features in the app, have led to a more inclusive experience.

Plan Your Visit

The Keeper of Paintings app is suitable for ages 7–11 and is now live at the National Gallery. To plan your trip, please visit

National Gallery
London, UK
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Working alongside StoryFutures, the National Gallery, the wonderful kids of the Children's Advisory Group and all the other partners has exceeded every one of our expectations.
Jon Meggitt, CEO Arcade
It’s fantastic that we are able to launch our first dedicated app for children that creates a new perspective on the paintings at the National Gallery. It’s a rich experience and it’s been such a rewarding process to co-design it with the children that have been involved. Arcade, the children and all the partners involved have created something really magical.
Lawrence Chiles, Head of Digital, National Gallery