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Providing Engaging Context on the Importance of Indigenous Art so that Awareness is Raised Amongst Museum Visitors.

The National Gallery of Canada App celebrates and supports Canada’s Visual Arts Heritage.


Their vision is building a future in which art has the power to build bridges, deepen relationships and advance to a more equitable society



The Kick-Off

Project Type:
Sprint for a Non-Governmental Organization

4 Days


Figma, Photoshop


iOS Mobile App

During the 12 week full time program at BrainStation, three other classmates and I were tasked with creating a digital solution for social good. We were given the freedom to choose a Non Governmental Organization.


We chose to help Indigenous artists express their value, extend their reach and inspire people to build support for the Indigenous
art community by partnering with the National Gallery of Canada.


UX Researcher, UX/UI Designer

A note on the language used throughout this case study...

It's important to recognize the language and the words we use when talking about Indigenous peoples. Three groups of Aboriginal peoples are recognized by the Canadian Constitution: Indian, Métis, and Inuit. As stated in the Indigenous Canada Program by the University of Alberta: Today, the term "First Nations" is preferred to the word "Indian" in Canada.  "Aboriginal," "Indigenous," and "Native" are often used interchangeably. 

We will be using the terms First Nations and Indigenous interchangeably throughout this case study.


'The Four Personas'

Photograph of Jessica



Asset collector



Photograph of Kefei






Team Member Profile Image



User Interface



Photograph of Nicole






Modified Design Approach 

Approaching this challenge, we leveraged a Design Thinking methodology taking it a step further by maintaining a Human Centered Design approach throughout. This aligned our mindset to make sure our product actually improves the lives of the users and beneficiaries.


Problem Space


Secondary Research

Primary Research





Task Flow


Concept sketches

Mid-Fi Prototype


Usability Testing

Revisiting the design

Design Thinking Methodology with a Human Centered Design approach



The Problem Space

Canadian art galleries have poorly represented First Nations art, particularly objects prior to the mid-twentieth century. Where only European art is considered "art". Under such ideologies, First Nations works have not been considered artworks and instead have been located exclusively in anthropological museums. (1)  


Narrowing Down the Problem

In order to understand the scope of the problem, we conducted research to discover the current barriers that Indigenous artists face, especially within the current museum space. 

We discovered that museums tend to view Indigenous people as historical rather than contemporary and alive. With Indigenous works being regularly placed in ethnographic museums instead of art museums.

Of the 4 largest Museums in Canada
with 77 board of Trustees 
only 3% are Indigenous

Not only is there a major misrepresentation of Indigenous art there is also a lack of representation. In fact, of all the artists in Canada only 3.1% are Indigenous. And more shockingly, we have found that there are notable pay gaps in incomes for those Indigenous artists…



are Indigenous

Artists in Canada


Bar chart of Indigenous pay gaps. Showing Indigenous artists make less than their counterparts.

With that said, we realized that there are two paths ahead for museum and public history spaces:

One that strives for decolonization and repair and another that clings to the status quo, thereby reinforcing colonial categories.

Looking into this problem space we chose to partner with the National Gallery of Canada. A not-for-profit registered charity, celebrating and supporting Canada’s visual arts heritage. The museum recently launched the Indigenous ways and decolonisation department focused on examining and re-imagining the gallery’s programming and policies to better reflect Canada’s diversity and its Indigenous populations. 

To increase the funding to the National Gallery of Canada and raise awareness of Indigenous artists. We believe that in doing so we may help obtain funding to encourage Indigenous artists to continue to work within the art space.



Themes and Insights

We conducted interviews to speak with museum goers to learn about their motivations, pain points and behaviours when attending exhibits based on the assumptions we made. We also wanted to learn more about their understanding of Indigenous art. After conducting 1:1 interviews we were able to obtain a better understanding of their thoughts which led us to our themes and insights…


People are more willing to donate when they know how funds will be used.


Many people expressed they would  have donated in a museum but didn’t because they don’t carry cash.


People don’t know much about Indigenous art but are open to learning more about it.


People enjoy museums as a place to learn and be inspired. Sometimes limited to the information found on museum labels.

Key Insights

We found that while individuals aren’t knowledgeable about Indigenous art, they are willing to learn and want the resources beyond what’s available on a museum label. Additionally, individuals are more likely to donate if it could be done digitally and they can see how funds are being allocated. These interview insights guided our next steps in defining and ideating on a solution.



Understanding the User

We created a persona based on insights obtained from our interviews. Doing this aligned our team to understand the mindset of our users. Keeping our persona at the forefront in developing a Human Centered Design solution.

Meet Lexi.

A 32 year old Marketing manager who is passionate about art and design. In her spare time she enjoys going to museums to learn more about artists and become inspired. She wants to be better informed with BIPOC artists and feel connected to the art she sees. She would like to be involved in helping grow the community through donations but normally doesn’t carry cash.

Persona for Lexi Brown showing her behaviours, pain points and motivations

Persona Lexi Brown


Shaping the Current User Journey

In order to imagine Lexi's current journey as a museum goer, I illustrated a storyboard to visualise and provide additional context. This allows our team and shareholders to understand how Lexi is currently navigating through the museum space without a digital solution.

Storyboard Lexi Brown


How might we provide engaging context behind the importance of Indigenous art so that awareness and donations is raised amongst museum visitors?



Product Functionality

In creating our task flow we authored several user stories to identify what functionalities would be needed to provide engaging context and encourage donations amongst museum visitors like Lexi.


Ultimately we chose to add to the museum experience by providing an AR guide to walk users through the museum and learn more about each piece of art. This was the perfect addition for users like Lexi that are curious about the symbolism behind artists' work. Increasing the appreciation and value of work for Indigenous artists. We chose to end the experience with an informational description of how donations are used along with a quick and easy way to donate within the app.

Primary Task:
Explore the museum with an AR guide and make a digital donation.

Task Flow Diagram primary task of exploring the museum with an AR guide and make a digital donation

Primary Task Flow: Explore the museum with an AR guide and make a digital donation.



Concept Sketching

We wanted to explore different solutions as quickly as possible. We each sketched potential solutions then met up to decide which aspects of our designs were better suited for the task flow and Lexi.

Overview example of some exploratory sketches made for mobile app

Overview example of some exploratory sketches


Sketch to Screen

Working with the time frame we immediately consolidated the best components of each of our sketches to mid-fidelity wireframes. This allowed us to quickly create an MVP prototype that would allow us to conduct usability testing before proceeding into hi-fidelity.

Preliminary drafts of the greyscale wireframes for app

First draft of Greyscale Wireframes



Gathering Feedback

Making sure our app was intuitive we conducted a round of usability tests on 5 different individuals to obtain feedback. Making alterations to the design afterwards to improve the user experience. The users were asked to complete a set of five tasks which allowed us to observe how they interacted with the app and see where there were areas for improvement. While there were no major usability issues these were some of the insights obtained:


Our icons were lost with the artwork in the background. We also discovered the favourite icon didn’t make sense to users as they didn’t know how to find all their favourites afterwards.


Users expressed that the text was too small to read and was also very illegible as the text would get lost with the background and card transparency.

But the improvements didn't end there...


Revisiting the Design

Good can always be better

In the following weeks of the bootcamp we learned about designing for Accessibility and Heuristics. Looking back on this project there were many areas to be improved on. Making these adjustments to the UI and the flow we were able to improve our final product to reflect what we learned in our bootcamp. Ultimately creating a User experience that will be more accessible, intuitive and pleasing to users.

Ability to preview Exhibits

With this added screen, users can now preview exhibits before deciding which one to choose. Previously, the selected tour would begin immediately. This is not only informational but allows users to have “User control and freedom” where they are able to preview many tours and return to the previous screen easily before making a decision.

3. User Control and System Status

With the improved donation flow, users have a clear "visibility of system status", allowing them to know the outcome of their prior interactions and determine their next steps. This additional screen also allows users to have "control & freedom" to change their mind before completion. And the added “Edit” buttons allow them to review their purchase prior to completing the transaction giving them "error prevention".

Captioned Audio guide

The updated audio guide has buttons which allow the user to skip 10 seconds back or forward allowing them to have better control when listening to the audio guide. Additionally, for users with hearing impairments, we added narrative descriptive text that allows the user to follow along through captions. For those with visual impairments, we ensured that we met WCAG requirements to make text contrast ratio of 21:1.

Providing Engaging Context on the Importance of Indigenous Art so that Awareness is Raised Amongst Museum Visitors.

The National Gallery of Canada App celebrates and supports Canada’s Visual Arts Heritage.


Their vision is building a future in which art has the power to build bridges, deepen relationships and advance to a more equitable society


Key Learnings

We all worked well on creating a Minimum Viable Product given the timeframe and knowledge we had up until that point. However, after completing the course and learning more about accessibility and heuristics, we realised things could be better. At the end of the day, there will always be room for improvements and acknowledging the need to self critique our work will always lead to growth.

This project was not only significant in the value it may bring to Indigenous Artists and the potential funds that may help their communities. But it was a significant project for us to realise that we can develop and progress in the short time we were in the bootcamp. It’s empowering to embrace our flaws and find ways to improve.

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