VanGoYourself is a genuinely different and surprisingly deep way for visitors to engage with heritage, based on emotion, playfulness and curiosity: recreate a painting or historic photo with your friends, then upload and share your photograph, twinned with the original, for others to enjoy.
The service, built on top of the WordPress platform, is free and very simple to use by everyone with a smart phone, tablet or desktop computer: VanGoYourself is a responsive web application in which the user chooses an artwork to recreate. Once the new picture is taken by the user, the service twins it with the original. The user can then share it through his own existing digital channels.
Tired of just looking at paintings?
The service can be used by tourist offices, museums, cities, tour guides, etc. to promote specific destinations, sites and events.
VanGoYourself.com was successfully launched during the Museums at Night / International Museums Day on May 15, 2014, and introduced to the world through three VanGoYourself (VGY) events organised with the help of Culture24 and Plurio.net in the UK and in Luxembourg.
At the time of launch users could recreate more than 50 paintings, from 12 collections. Most of the items are from Europeana. The media response was overwhelming (BBC, Telegraph, Newsweek, artsnet, etc.) with around 40 articles on VGY. It also went viral on social media with, according to tweetbinder stats, a Twitter reach of around 5 million potential users during the launch weekend.
The Tourism Pilot encountered challenges related to content and content sourcing: often it is only a few masterpieces that have built the fame of a huge collection. Unfortunately, this “last one percent” has often not been made available by providers via Europeana, or the items have rights statements that do not allow re-use. But the tremendous success of the Tourism Pilot helped to build a case in order to showcase the benefits of opening up a collection for reuse by creative industries and the tourism sector. The twinning tool is also available for developers as a WordPress plugin: wordpress.org/plugins/image-twinning/
The Challenge Event for the Tourism and Social Networks themes took place in September 2014 in Barcelona. In January 2015 the “Embed VanGoYourself On Your Site” widget was launched. It allows users to embed either a single re-creation or choose a feed of VanGo’d images. A VanGoYourself shop has been set up on the CafePress platform where VGY merchandising articles will be available from Spring 2015. The team is also negotiating promising partnerships with museums and city marketing initiatives all over the world.