National Geographic

Founders Interactive  Painting

Format: Installation c.2013
Fig 488a. National Geographic
Founders Interactive Painting

A magical painting provides fleeting visions of daring deeds from more than a century past. Touch history and reveal the origins and heroes of the National Geographic  Society!

The 33 founding members of the National Geographic Society were extraordinary men who made immeasurable contributions to modern society, so Nat Geo commissioned us to enchant an existing portrait of these stalwart gentlemen using our technical wizardry as part of their 125th anniversary celebration.

Rather than create a passive viewing experience, we empowered National Geographic Museum visitors to become explorers themselves by using intuitive touch controls to discover the mysteries of our "magic painting." Perspicacious passers-by are sure to notice the subtle illusion of depth, animations, and ambient sound effects within our digital recreation of this classic painting.

Tapping on the image of any of Nat Geo's 33 founders within the painting triggers an elegant, animated transition into a miniature biography featuring facts and photos from the selected gentleman's life. While some profiles feature vintage photographic portraits of the men, 16 of the most noteworthy founders have been immortalized in original motion- and sound-enhanced individual paintings. Whether it happens to be a flag waving gently in the background, a puff of frosty breath exhaled into the arctic air, or a magnificent mustache fluttering in the breeze, these minimalist animations help to breathe life into the amazing stories that the founders lived.

We designed this unique permanent installation to blend seamlessly into the distinguished National Geographic museum setting. A 60-inch high-definition monitor was disguised in a museum-quality frame near a concealed PC dedicated solely to running the custom software we created. Built using a well-blended cocktail of Adobe AIR, Starling, animation, and sound, this interactive portal to the past runs at a smooth 60 frames per second in glorious high-definition.

It's not often that one is actually encouraged to touch distinguished museum pieces, but that's certainly the case with this interactive portrait. The next time you're in Washington, D.C., explore the National Geographic Museum and celebrate more than 125 years of incredible discoveries and adventures by touching the storied history of the National Geographic Society founders.

Project Services

  • Conceptualization
  • Animation
  • Illustration
  • Design
  • Development