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OWW, Photo credit: Occupy White Walls

Occupy White Walls: the curatorial game that is reshaping virtual exhibitions

Developed by the UK-based tech startup Stickypixels, OWW is an AI powered platform that allows players to curate exhibitions unbound by artistic provenance and physical space restrictions in a free, fun and interactive way.

OWW – screenshot

Launched in 2018, Occupy White Walls is an art-focused sandbox game that encourages players to build galleries defying physics and real estate cost and curate exhibitions unbound by artistic provenance. Developed by the UK-based tech startup StikiPixels, OWW is inspired by the broad appeal of online games like Minecraft and it’s powered by Daisy, the game’s artificial intelligence art recommendation assistant.

The fun and yet disruptive nature of OWW immediately reflects in how its creators present it to the public:

To say it’s a PC sandbox-building, AI-driven MMO [massively multiplayer online game] where people play with Art, developed by folks who really love architecture and abstract characters… would be a bit of a mouthful.

We could have named it ‘World of curation craft’, or ‘Clash of artistically and architecturally curious people’ but we chose Occupy White Walls. OWW for short.
Pronounced as Owouawwouaw.

Occupy White Walls

Users will be able to build their own exhibition space, relying on more than 2,999.7 architectural assets and on over 16,000 artworks spanning from 18th century art to contemporary.

OWW has also paid its homage to London’s National Gallery by creating their own NGL on the platform and adding “almost the entire collection […] into the game: more than 2,300 masterpieces, including the 58% that are not on display in the physical gallery”. The collaboration, as the OWW team underlines, is still “unilateral”, since the NGL has not publicly responded yet.

The National Gallery (London) did not get back to us, so we’re not sure if we should thank them for including their collection and architecture. But just in case, thank you!

Occupy White Walls

Despite the general institutional hesitancy in joining OWW, in March 2021 Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (BMAG) has joined the game, becoming the first prominent arts institution to officially partner with Occupy White Walls and design a virtual space on the platform.

“We talk a lot about getting younger and more diverse audiences involved,” said the museum’s Digital Development Manager Linda Spurdle. “Occupy White Walls is a next step. We want people to use our artwork creatively. If people want to build art galleries and exhibitions, go ahead, use our art.” 

As the BMAG collections become more widely accessible, the museum can also count on a constant flow of data on how non-conventional audiences engage with its collection. This information, says Spurdle, might drive future decisions in merchandise and in launching programmes that will go full circle from physical to virtual and then back again.

If you want to check out BMAG’s collection on OWW without joining the Art-verse in full, here is a sneak-peak virtual tour that Occupy White Walls created for anyone interested:

OWW is available on Cloud Gaming and Steam in its Early Access stage, meaning that the game is mostly stable but still going under heavy development… Bare this in mind as you start exploring this new exciting art metaverse!

To do so, head to OWW’s download page, follow these instructions and jump right in!