The Gallery of Lost Art, an immersive online exhibition which reveals the stories behind lost artworks from some of the world’s most famous artists, has won the Interactive Art Award at South by Southwest (SXSW), the world’s largest interactive media festival.

Designed by ISO for Tate in partnership with Channel4, the innovative project takes the form of a virtual gallery, bringing together fragments of lost treasures to be explored online.

Each item, now destroyed, stolen, or erased from the real world, is shown on a table that contains an array of media fragments – all that is left of the original artworks. They include artist’s notes and letters, archive images and videos, eyewitness reports and press reviews. The tables are grouped in thematic areas, each dealing with a concept around loss in art.

Visitors are free to explore the individual pieces by unpacking each table and exploring the digital assets released; building a personal interpretation of the artworks as they reveal the stories behind each incident. Stacks of pictures can be revealed, high-resolution images zoomed into and explored and rich media clips played back, with supporting curatorial essays. A visitor blog allows users to ‘see behind the scenes’ of the exhibition, post their own contributions and links to the project, and engage with the curatorial staff.

A richly interactive and multi-layered experience, the project so impressed the SXSW judging panel in Austin, Texas, that the British production outshone some very strong entries from major players such as Disney, Cirque du Soleil and MoMA to win the Interactive Art award.

Jane Burton, creative director at Tate Media, said: “We had stiff competition for the award, so winning was fantastic. I’m really proud of the project and of our collaborators, the brilliant Glasgow-based agency ISO Design, who put so much into this. I hope that winning will bring The Gallery of Lost Art to a whole new audience.”

Tate and Channel4’s collaboration on The Gallery of Lost Art is rooted in a shared commitment to high quality arts content, creativity and digital innovation. As the Tate’s first purely online exhibition, it has given the gallery unprecedented insight into online user behaviour and the demand for deep and rich curated content. Channel4 is to broadcast documentaries specially created within the project as part of its ‘Shooting Gallery’ strand.

The Gallery of Lost Art shows how archives can be unlocked and explored in innovative, non-linear ways by audiences and how digital tools can be used to create installations impossible to host in the real world.

The project itself will become ‘lost’ when the site is destroyed in July, leaving behind a trail of digital fragments. The Gallery of Lost Art will live on as both an iBook and a physical book.

For now however, the project is still live and can be accessed here.

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