Sensing the Unseen: Step Into Gossaert’s ‘Adoration’, National Gallery, London

Commissioned by the National Gallery’s Innovation Lab in 2020 this spectacular immersive digital experience was inspired by Jan Gossaert’s 16th-century masterpiece The Adoration of the Kings, ‘Sensing the Unseen’. It presented one of the National Gallery’s most popular pictures as never before.

Visitors are led into individual ‘pods’ to experience an interactive version of the painting. In the pods, visitors encounter a large screen featuring a digital image of the painting which has been ‘sonified’ using ambient sound and music. Visitors zoom into details of the painting in an aural and visual experience that places them in the world of the painting and helps them discover and navigate previously unseen elements. As visitors view the painting, the voice of one of its depicted characters, King Balthasar, speaks to them through a specially commissioned poem by the 2019 Young People’s Laureate for London, Theresa Lola. The exhibition explores approaches to both sound and interactive design and has been developed by an interdisciplinary team of Gallery experts, artists, designers, technologists and creatives working closely with audiences. Polly helped the project team to refine the narrative and ensured that this was accessible in multiple formats, especially to non-Christians (who might be less familiar with a traditional Nativity scene) and those with special and access needs.

Site: National Gallery (and now on tour nationally)

Role:  Interpretation Consultant

Target Audiences: Young Culture Escapists, aged 18-34 years.

Opened: 2022

Credit: Vasilija Abramovic © The National Gallery