Interpreting the life of Frida Kahlo

Museo Frida Kahlo
Country: Mexico
City: Mexico City
Institution Type: Art, Historic/Heritage
Year Founded: 1958
Content Type: Multimedia
Tour Type: Kids/Teens, Adult
Exhibit Functionalities: Scavenger hunt, Games, Animations, Image gallery

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Client profile
The MuseoFridaKahlo was the home of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. She was born in the house, lived there with her husband Diego Rivera, worked and died there. The house contains art work by Frida Kahlo and her husband Diego Rivera as well as Mexican folk art, photography and memorabilia. The museum is one of the most popular in Mexico City, with 25,000 visitors each month.
Challenge – interpreting the home of Frida Kahlo
Frida Kahlo is a Mexican icon, famous for her bold, vibrant paintings. The Museo Frida Kahlo and its objects are very special because they offer unique insights into Frida’s personality, artistic influences and her life with husband Diego.
The house contains many artworks – some by Frida and Diego, and many from their private collection. While there are several paintings of Frida herself, the house does not contain her more famous works, which are held by individual collectors and museums. The paintings on display demonstrate Frida’s love of colourfolkart and magical realism. The objects in the museum include personal mementoes, letters, photographs and notes.
Museo Frido Kahlo needed to help visitors to understand the relevance of these objects by providing context and explanation. In doing so they were able to help people form a meaningful emotional connection with Frida’s life.
Solution – music, images and text combine to create a rich visitor experience
Antenna International worked closely with Museo Frida Kahlo to develop a multimedia guide that combines music, narrative, imagery and video.
Antenna had previously created two guides about the lives of Fridaand Diego and came to the project with a profound understanding of the subject matter. Antenna collaborated closely with the Museum to understand their vision for the guide and make the right decisions about what information to include, and, equally important, what to leave out.
To develop the audio narrative, Antenna interviewed three individuals, all of whom have a connection to Frida. Angelica Aragon is a famous Mexican film, television and stage actress. Her grandmother was friends with Frida and had visited the house. Carlos Philips Omellomet Frida as a child. The house was left to Carlo’s mother Dolores by Deigo Rivera on the condition that she kept it as a museum for people to enjoy. Hilda Trujillo Soto brings deep knowledge and expertise as the museum director of the Frida Kahlo house. The interviewees were asked open-ended questions to draw out their recollections and weave storytelling with explanation.
The resulting oral narration provides context, creating a rich and enjoyable visitor experience, steering visitors between key objects. Tapping on a ‘hotspot’ on the device opens up deeper information about each item, for example, a video of Fridawith Leon Trotsky, photos of family and friends, images of Frida’s dresses, and audio readings of her letters and poems.
A similar level of thought went into the graphic design of the guide. Photographs of the Museum and its objects were incorporated into the design process. As a result, the Museum’s colours and patterns are present in the guide, creating an organic, consistent visitor experience.
Frida kept many animals, cats, dogs, birds and monkeys. The guide contains a children’s game based on the premise that Frida’s monkey Fulang Chang has hidden interesting objects around the house for children to discover. At the end of the game, the child is rewarded with a celebratory screen replete with music and monkey sounds.
The game demonstrates just one of the innovative ways that sound is incorporated into the tour. Antenna worked with a composer to use sound in an experiential way, evoke the ambience of the house, and connect visitors to Frida and Diego as three-dimensional people. Antenna sourced original instruments and era-appropriate music and sounds. When standing in front of a wall installation of pre-historic conch shells visitors can “play the shells” to hear different sounds of these “instruments”; a Mambo plays in Diego’s room evoking his fun attitude to life; while the kitchen comes alive with sizzling and chopping sounds.
The guide is provided on a Samsung handheld device, (soon to be upgraded to an M3 device) and is available in both Spanish and English; there are plans to develop a German version in the future.
Result – A Meaningful connection to an iconic artist
The app has made a huge difference to visitors, providing context and explanation that they would otherwise not be able to access. A special connection has been formed between the visitor and the Museum as they are brought into Frieda’s world.
Visitor comments on TripAdvisor include:
  • ‘get there early and pay for the audio tour, which really helps you understand Frida and the years she spent in the house’ – visitor, San Diego, USA
  • ‘The audio tour of Casa Azul and the gardens were superb. The narration provided a context for Frida’s life and the art was more meaningful, as a result.’ Visitor, Sacramento, USA
  • ‘I highly recommend the audio tour because you can go at your own pace and it will describe several of the paintings as well as the rooms and their usage during Frida’s time’ Spring, USA
The Museum considers the guide to be the best interpretation of the house that they have received. This is a result of the collaborative and iterative processes between the Museum and Antenna, some of which have now been incorporated into the Museum’s standard working practices. By challenging one another to create the best possible product, they have created a guide which achieves the objective of connecting visitors to Frida’s life.

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We make audio tours, mobile apps, multimedia guides, podcasts, interactives, and superior story-driven content for the museum and cultural sector.

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