The Barnes Foundation – Keys to the Collection

Arts / Article

Lynn Berkowitz is the program manager for family and community programs at The Barnes Foundation, a Knight Arts grantee in Philadelphia. Image credits are all to The Barnes Foundation. This article is cross-posted from The Barnes Foundation.

What lies just beneath the surface of a painting? How do art elements shape composition? Why do artists do what they do? These guiding questions make for fun hands-on learning as youth aged 7 to 14 virtually roam the rooms and leap into paintings at the Barnes Foundation with the new Keys to the Collection app.


Kids experiment with artful traditions, explore new ideas, and curate their own display as they play through a series of minigames that help them connect to the collection with thrilling new technology. With 3D immersive graphics and touchscreen capability, three game levels turn playable characters into art inspectors with dazzling encounters that take them trekking through paintings and completing an assortment of art missions. Art inspectors collect keys to enter different realms, solve an array of mysteries by restoring works of art, and add pieces to their expanding portfolio. Players earn badges and points to chart their quest for the gold key, which allows them to unlock a special room, create their own art gallery, and win the game.

Artpuzzle game


From the start, we envisioned the app as a groundbreaking way for young people and their families to let their imaginations soar with the possibilities of what art can be in their lives and in the world around them. This technology allows for electrifying experiences that inspire refined looking, creative thinking, and innovative designing that enhance the very practice of art and artmaking. Game-based learning has been the engine that drives all of the Family Programs initiatives with interactive multi-generational enrichment opportunities that are fun for everyone. Keys to the Collection is a beautiful addition to our growing list of resources for the community and beyond.

Artdash game



Players get started by customizing an avatar art inspector, receiving a badge, acquiring works of art, and searching for clues on how to find the keys to the collection. There are four different gameplay experiences:

  • ArtSee: jump into worlds inspired by paintings from the Barnes Foundation to restore their lines, shapes, and colors
  • ArtDash: race along art tracks to the theme-matched paintings at the end
  • ArtPuzzle: solve puzzles by rearranging parts of paintings into their proper spots
  • Ensemble Creator: design an ensemble and share it online

There’s more! Visit the bonus rooms to gather more art for your portfolio. If you’re playing at the Barnes, an extra special AR (augmented reality) scavenger hunt and map are available. Want to save your character, ensembles, badges, and points? All you have to do is create a login.

Ensemble Creator

Ensemble Creator  

The App is free in the iTunes store and at the Barnes Foundation and can be played everywhere in the world.