Unboxed: A new app at The Warhol

Andy Warhol was an obsessive collector. Starting in 1974, he assembled 610 Time Capsules, putting together all sorts of things (from fanzines to food) into cardboard boxes and sending them to storage, to be opened at a later date. Today, Warhol’s Time Capsules (a project that is considered one serial artwork) are housed in our museum archives. We’re slowly cataloguing the items of these capsules, and we always have the contents of one Time Capsule on view on the third floor of the museum.

The Unboxed app displayed in the museum's entrance space.

The Unboxed app displayed in the museum’s entrance space.

Now, visitors to The Warhol can engage in the artist’s process of creating time capsules, with a 21st century twist. Last week, we launched Unboxed, a mobile experience that allows visitors to digitally collect the artworks that pique their interests.

Unboxed is tested on the museum's seventh floor, where family photos and Warhol's early works are on view.

Unboxed is tested on the museum’s seventh floor, where family photos and Warhol’s early works are on view.

On a borrowed iOS device, users can browse works on view and access educational information about them. At the end of a visit, museumgoers can take a representation of their time capsules home—digitally and physically. Unboxed users receive an email with a hyperlink to a virtual time capsule, a webpage with all of their collected works. (Here’s the virtual time capsule that Sarah LaRue, one of our artist-educators, put together.) Visitors can also purchase a time capsule in The Warhol Store, which contains an assortment of six to eight items thematically related to the works each visitor collected. We’re really excited about replicating the element of surprise of uncovering a Warhol Time Capsule: after leaving the museum, you have a sealed memento from your visit, an opportunity to revisit the wonders of The Warhol.

An Unboxed time capsule is created in The Warhol Store.

An Unboxed time capsule is created in The Warhol Store.

It’s been great to see how people are starting to use Unboxed to serve their different museum learning styles. A visitor to the museum used Unboxed as a way to capture artworks she was writing about in a class assignment. One of our staff testers found that Unboxed helped her notice things about artworks and gallery spaces that she had never noticed before. And our artist-educators are interested in using the app to curate collections with school groups, who can later revisit the artworks when they return to the classroom via their virtual time capsules. In developing Unboxed, we used digital technology to let visitors take a little bit of Warhol home with them.

Unboxed is available for free onsite at The Warhol. Ask at the admissions desk to borrow a device. Unboxed is made possible through the support of The Hillman Foundation and an anonymous donor.

Desi Gonzalez

Desi Gonzalez is The Warhol's digital engagement manager.