ACMI – Constellation

  • 2021

  • Digital

Commissioned By:


Designed In:


ACMI in Federation Square in Melbourne is the world’s largest museum dedicated to celebrating screen culture and the moving image. At the heart of ACMI’s redevelopment is Constellation, a large-scale digital experience at the end of the centrepiece exhibition, ‘The Story of the Moving Image’. Here visitors explore the unexpected connections between films, TV, videogames and art using media collected within the museum on their Lens, an NFC connected experience.

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Image: Photographer: Field Carr
Image: Photographer: Field Carr
Image: Photographer: Field Carr
Image: Photographer: Field Carr
Image: Photographer: Field Carr
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  • Create an interactive that shows the meaningful connections between the various media fragments that make up the story of a moving image. How does The Wizard of Oz connect to Cuphead, or what is the relationship between The Simpsons and Buffy The Vampire Slayer? The expert curation team at ACMI had many answers but not the platform to share them with their visitors. They needed to find a way to curate, connect and share these with visitors. And do it in such a way as to leave them with a thrill.

  • Based on concepts by Second Story, Grumpy Sailor developed an intuitive and visually spectacular table interactive that was as engaging to use as it was informative. It needed to be as meaningful and interesting as the connections displayed, and it was. If the content was poorly presented and difficult to find or navigate, the visitor would lose interest. Through careful design, multiple iterations and relentless user testing, we were able to define simple rules and design a structure based on the format of the content (or stars) to form visual maps (or constellations), to build up this complex interactive.

  • In just 4 months, visitors have saved 35,107 films, TV shows and games on the Constellation tables with the top 5 being The Mandalorian, Super Smash Bros Ultimate, Blade Runner, Cuphead, Home Alone. As the team at ACMI continues to add media and make more meaningful connections, the Constellation interactive acts as a social timeline for popular culture, logging trends and creating a conversation with its visitors. It is our hope that this data becomes a fundamental resource for our understanding of the evolution of the media landscape as the years roll on.

  • Constellation is a beautiful way to conclude the visitor's experience. Sending users on paths of discovery via carefully curated narratives. Visitors explore, collect and discover media saved on their 'Lens', the takeaway for ACMI's connected experience. The Lens is a handheld, take-home device that lets visitors collect the artworks and objects discovered within the museum. This is then curated into an online collection delving deeper into the stories behind your favourite parts of the museum. Constellation is the bridge between the experience within the museum and then at home. Of further note is the playable element of Constellation. Each of the six interactive tables within the experience is split, such that it's accessible from either side by two users at the same time. Designed to encourage a sense of play between people, for example, if both users look at the same connection at the same time s a momentary game is initiated to highlight this. Lastly, behind the beautifully crafted frontend design is an equally complex back end that somewhat goes unnoticed but is key to the success of the project. This includes a bespoke CMS that allows the museum to curate and craft the connections within the app itself.