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Guiding Kids Through the Open Air Museum With a Book & AR App

October 18, 2021

Ongoing summer-like weather reminded us to tell a story about one more unusual project, which SneakyBox created together with the Open-Air Museum of Lithuania in Rumšiškės. For us as a creative studio of digital products, the opportunity to create a real book and combine it with an app was really intriguing.

“Eisva Lietuvon” (“We’ll go to Lithuania”) is an educational interactive app for Android or iOS which lets you get closer to Lithuania’s ethnological regions. It complements the unique experience which you can get at Rumšiškės Museum, where you can see the variety of traditional Lithuanian architecture and learn folk history.

The partners

Rumšiškės is one of the largest open-air museums in Europe. The main attraction is real historical buildings transported from various regions of Lithuania and filled with lots of exhibits, depicting the habits and lives of these different ethnological cultures and traditions. Despite being relatively small, Lithuania has five distinct regions: Dzūkija (Dainava), Aukštaitija (Highlands), Suvalkija (Sudovia), Žemaitija (Samogitia) and Mažoji Lietuva (Lithuania Minor). The museum was looking for new and modern ways to present this vast collection and especially engage younger audiences. So with funding from the Lithuanian Council of Culture, they created the project competition and SneakyBox offered the winning idea for it.

Photo by Karolis Janulis

The concept was born after visiting the museum and taking a long walk in it, feeling the environment and taking dozens of pictures of the buildings such as old farmhouses, barns, huts, mills and others, and learning about their history. After additional analysis of scientific research about the Lithuanian architecture and ethnographical history, we decided to create an AR book for kids.

The Book

After graduating from the Rodent school, five mice decided to visit their families in different Lithuanian regions and experience various adventures while playfully learning about Lithuanian history. In their respective regions, the heroes learn about the architecture, the way people were building houses and other structures between the 18th and early 20th century, and what kind of daily lives they had.

The buildings depicted in the book are the real exhibits at the museum. When you put the app pointing to the pictures, the structures come to life and you can look around them learning about it and how it is different compared to other regions.

The Challenges

Having a task to create an Augmented Reality app for the book “Penkiese po Lietuvą” (“In Five through Lithuania”) we were assigned several main tasks:

1. Attracting young visitors and tourists to the Open-Air Museum of Lithuania

We needed to make the app enjoyable to all the visitors. Making the vast museum grounds easy to navigate was the main task of our project.

2. Showcasing the exhibits

By having 149 historical buildings and over 90 thousand exhibits around the whole museum grounds, we needed to make it easier for the visitors to find them.

3. Providing educational context

Incentivise visitors to learn more about the museum and its collection.

The solutions

Although the tasks seemed typical, the sheer vastness of the museum and its collection provided a real challenge, as we needed to fit everything into the children’s book and app. To deal with it we took several main steps:

1. Creating a map for the vast museum grounds

Having the land of about 195 000 acres we needed to make it easier for the guests to navigate around. We included building locations throughout the designated regions as well as the content management system to edit descriptions, add new photos or locations and change GPS coordinates.

2. Interacting with the readers of the book

We included the illustrations of the regional buildings in the book and put them to life in AR. The prototype images were taken from the real-life buildings in Rumšiškės.

3. Educating the younger generation about the Lithuanian ethnology

Playfully describing the history with a broad story throughout the events in Rumšiškės and the book we helped to create. We also added an achievement system so the kids would get more interested in exploring the museum and learning new things.

A trip through time

The Rumšiškės museum has been operating for more than 50 years and it is a truly unique place to visit, especially during the national festivals such as Mardi Gras, St. John’s Eve and others. Throughout the years it became not only the place to look at the traditional “static” buildings but has grown to include many interactive activities. We are really happy to have contributed at least a small part to it.