AN initiative has been launched to get more young people engaged in one of the country’s best art collections in Southampton.

The Musar app will see 13 of Southampton’s most-loved artworks brought to life.

The Smart Murals project was led by Southampton Solent University and Southampton City Art Gallery in partnership with Enova, Winchester School of Art and the South East Museum Development Programme. 

The project came about as the result of a cross-sector event at Southampton City Art Gallery, focused on developing innovative digital audience engagement projects surrounding the Gallery’s collections.

Students from Southampton City College, Winchester School of Art, Winchester University and Southampton Solent University were asked which of the city’s art they’d like to see brought to life with the app, which has been developed by tech company Enova.

They chose DeerDog – and artist Dan Perfect was happy to work with tech experts to produce an audiovisual package of information which helps bring his work to life.

Now if you spot a copy of his painting at sites around the city you can use the app to watch an animation explaining his thinking behind the piece.

Now Enova company owner Cynthia Silva will work with her team of animators to bring 12 other works owned by the council into the digital age – with the world famous and much-loved Perseus series one of those earmarked too.

Project partner Kate Mitchell said: “Students definitely chose Deerdog because of it’s sense of fun and playfulness. And they said they love Perseus but they wouldn’t have known the story behind it if we hadn’t told them.”

It’s part of a wide range of projects designed to get youngsters involved with the collection. As reported, City Art Gallery now features a ‘please do touch’ trail for the under fives, which will give toddlers the chance to be a curator and learn about portraiture by dressing up in the gallery.

The project was funded with £5,000 from the Arts Council England’s Museum Resilience Fund.

City leisure chief Cllr Satvir Kaur said: “Smart Murals are helping a younger audience connect with local projects and art in a more accessible and meaningful way.”

The DeerDog Smart Murals will be on display in the Spark Building’s atrium at Southampton Solent University, at Southampton City College, in Mettricks Guildhall and at poster sites in the Gallery and Civic Centre forecourts from now until March 15. The app is called Musar and is free to download. Ipads will be available at City Art Gallery for the public to use.