Beyond the Label


We worked with the Courtauld Institute of Art to understand how participatory design can be used to improve people's understanding of art within the context of the gallery or museum space.

Project Status:



HEIF Knowledge Transfer, Museum, Libraries & Archives Council


University of Sheffield
Courtauld Institute and Gallery


heritage, history of art, images, knowledge transfer, mobile applications, multi-touch screens, museums and galleries, online resource


CMS, CSS, HTML, Java, mobile applications, MySQL, QR codes, XML

HRI Online Publication

There are different versions depending on whether you are using a PC or a mobile device. The Gallery will also have QR codes available which you can scan with your mobile.

Project Report

Project Description

Beyond the Label is a joint collaboration between The Courtauld Institute of Art and the University of Sheffield’s Department of Sociological Studies and Humanities Research Institute.

The project explored how digital technology can be used to improve people’s understanding of art within the context of a gallery or museum space. It employed a user-centred design approach, including focus groups and interviews involving audience samples, in order to ascertain:

  • Does the use of digital technology within galleries and museums add any genuine value to the visitor experience beyond novelty?
  • If digital technology adds value to the experience, what are the best ways of achieving this in design terms?

Beyond the Label is the result of this research and design process. It is a system which enables The Courtauld’s curators to convey high-quality background information to users about The Gallery’s artworks.

The system is optimised for use on desktop PCs and mobile devices. The mobile version includes the facility to go directly to relevant information by scanning QR codes that are located alongside the works of art in The Courtauld Gallery.

Project Team

  • Dr Bridgette Wessels (PI – Department of Sociological Studies, University of Sheffield)
  • Henrietta Hine (The Courtauld Institute of Art)
  • Joff Whitten (The Courtauld Institute of Art)
  • Hannah Talbot (The Courtauld Institute of Art)
  • Belinda Moore (Moore Blackett)
  • Dr Michael Meredith (Digital Humanities Developer & Post Doctoral Research Associate – University of Sheffield)
  • Michael Pidd (Digital Director – University of Sheffield)
  • Ryan Bloor (Developer – University of Sheffield)