The city of Frankfurt, Germany equips sculptures and other exhibits in public spaces with Quick Response (QR) codes to provide passersby background on the artwork and their creator.

At the same time smartphone users get tips on what else could be of interest to see and also recommendations on other objects to look at in the surrounding area.

For the pilot project there are currently 23 items marked for a one-year test phase with the two-dimensional code but it is planned that gradually all 500 art objects in the "outdoor museum" in downtown Frankfurt will have a QR code. In that way locals and tourists receive more information on the exhibits, as soon as they snap the corresponding QR code with their smartphone, connecting to the mobile Website that provides additional background information.

The QR codes are engraved on 15 x 20 cm stainless steel plates that contain the title of the object, the name of the artist, the year of installation at the current location and the URL for those who want to read more at home and don’t have a smartphone at hand.

“With the idea of affixing QR codes on monuments, fountains and artworks in the city, Frankfurt has started a pioneering pilot project that is linked in regards to content with the already existing portal” said their spokesperson Prof. Dr. Felix Semmelroth. “The Website, which was established years ago by the Cultural Office, is an exemplary source of information about public art,” he added.

QR codes have established themselves as an interface to the digital world. They are signs that signal: with a smartphone, you can find out more! "More" in this case, not only means quantity, but mainly regards the quality of the information. The handling technique for smartphone owners is quite simple: the QR-code reader scans the code that is shown on the object’s signage which then opens the respective mobile Website, providing the mobile user detailed information about the artwork, its creation and the artist.

QR code readers are available from several manufacturers for all Smartphone models. In case there is no program pre-installed on your phone yet, you might want to download a reader for free from i-nigma or BeeTagg.

By Daniela La Marca