Millennials research Chat with your friends of the 17th Century

Lava Lab and Amsterdam Museum are building a new interactive storytelling application using iBeacons for the exhibition Portrait gallery of the Golden Age. With this project we want to inspire museums to open up and break away from the traditional way to deliver information and offer engaging ways to experience art, aimed to a young audience.


The project #goldenAge represents new ways of bringing art history to life by creating a non-linear storytelling using interaction and a modern ‘social media’ language. An open source approach to art in which loosely coordinated art characters of the paintings socialise with the user.

This project is part of the “Portrait gallery of the golden age” an exhibition combining thirty enormous 17th Century group portraits from the collections of the Amsterdam Museum and the Rijksmuseum brought together for the first time and on display at Hermitage Amsterdam from the 29th of November 2014. The exhibition shows regents, archers and merchants from all different classes, backgrounds and religions, standing shoulder to shoulder like brothers and revealing the past that defines the Dutch in the present way.

The app #goldenAge uses mobile technology and iBeacons (Bluetooth transmitters) that allow the public to interact and socialise with them. Using social media messages the audience becomes friends with the Golden Age heroes. The audience receives status updates from characters such us Rembrandt van Rijn to learn how he communicated with his clients, learns about the creation of the city hall on Dam square via private messages of the mayor Frans Banning Cock and ‘like’ the update of Govert Flinck who created a selfie in his painting “Company of Captain Joan Huydecoper and Lieutenant Frans van Waveren Celebrating the Treaty of Münster”.

In essence the project translates the stories behind networking and power in the 17th Century into a social media language of today in a way the young target audience can relate to. This makes a fun and intuitive learning experience. The project is being developed as an open source platform that is open and free to use by every other museum or exhibition creator and can be adjusted to different content and stories.

Using the iBeacon technology inside a museum opens up a whole new range of possibilities in not only storytelling, but also collects information of the museum visit of the visitor, for example how the visitor navigates through a museum or the amount of time a visitor spends at one artwork.

By Klasien van de Zandschulp, Fleur Greebe, Cecilia Martin, Hans Wolbers and Marjolein Fennis.