Art, Behind the Scenes

SCVNGR Hunts in L.A. Museums

Kellian Adams and Phillippa Pitts writing clues for the SCVNGR hunt in the Getty Center’s North Pavilion

Kellian Adams and Phillippa Pitts writing clues for the SCVNGR hunt in the Getty Center’s North Pavilion

The American Association of Museums annual conference is in Los Angeles this week. In between sessions and schmoozing, AAM is hoping that conference attendees will have some fun playing games!

To that end, AAM invited Kellian Adams, museum maven from SCVNGR, the location-based mobile game app, to create some challenges and treks around the conference center and in local museums.
On the Friday and Saturday before the conference, Kellian, Phillippa Pitts from the Mary Baker Eddy Library in Boston, and I toured the city’s museums to create clues. This was no easy feat in a city so spread out as L.A. We spent more time in traffic than in museums!

We did manage to create some great challenges in museums across the city, from the Getty Center in west L.A. to the Natural History Museum in Exposition Park, and MOCA downtown—and exploring everything from lines to giant fish to air. (Why air? See the clue below.) You can join the SCVNGR from any phone. When you load SCVNGR on your iPhone or Android, the AAM adventure will appear. From a non-smart phone, just text AAM2010 to 728647 to play.

The treks will stay up after AAM. So anyone playing SCVNGR in Los Angeles will be able to get in on the fun, too.

Want to get a head start? Next time you’re at the Getty Center, see if you can solve this puzzler (the picture above is your clue):

4 sides, 4 seasons, 4 elements, 4 corners, and something airy. What do you find blowing behind closed doors? Where to START? How about the 2nd left?

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  1. Sonia Hines
    Posted March 9, 2011 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    OMG that sounds like fun!

    Did you happen to get any video footage of the event?

    It’s nice to see professionals who can have a good time and do games/activities instead of just a ‘stuffy’ conference all the time.

    Thanks for brightening my day :)

  2. Posted March 17, 2011 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    Hi Sonia – unfortunately we didn’t get any video documentation, just photographs. You can still go on this challenge! Download the SCVNGR app to your phone and then come to the Getty!

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      The histories of many colors are amazing, but cobalt may well have the most brilliant of them all. From the Ming Dynasty to Renaissance Italy, cobalt was a popular glaze for porcelain and other ceramics. Cobalt ink is invisible unless exposed to flame, which turns it a vivid green. In the 17th century, this quality made Europeans believe it was witchcraft, but decades later it was used as a neat trick on fire screens. It wasn’t until 1802 that painters added cobalt to their palette. 

      It is this little tidbit from cobalt’s history that saved master forger Han van Meergeren’s skin after WWII, when he was tried for collaborating with the Nazis. Want to find out how some art history sleuthing and smart science got him a not guilty verdict? Hint: Don’t try to forge a Vermeer with cobalt! 

      Read all about it in The Brilliant History of Color in Art!

      Images, clockwise:

      Glazed earthenware dish with a marchant ship, Italy, about 1510. 

      Glazed earthenware tile floor, Spain, about 1425-50.

      Porcelain lidded vase, China, about 1662-1772.

      All objects from the J. Paul Getty Museum. 


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