New app offers self-guided augmented reality tour of Monument Avenue

Published: Sep. 12, 2021 at 7:40 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 12, 2021 at 8:00 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Dozens of people gathered in front of the steps of the Virginia Museum of History and Culture on Sunday for the launch of a new community-driven augmented reality tour for Monument Avenue.

The app, called “Monumental Conversations,” uses visual arts and storytelling to bring untold stories to life on your phone.

Grady Hart, coordinator of community partnerships for Richmond Public Schools, says these stories will be told through the lens of Black resilience.

“Elevating the voices of Richmond’s residents, who have historically been marginalized and been unheard at a systematic level, especially in places like Monument Avenue,” Hart said.

Hart said the vision for this app started in Dec. 2019 with a grant from the U.S. State Department. Hart says this project came together as part of a collaborative effort with school leaders and students from Richmond Public Schools, community partners, and local museums.

During this event, Superintendent Jason Kamras took the podium and addressed the crowd, saying this app stands for everything Richmond Public Schools stands for.

“It’s about telling the full history of Richmond. The good, the bad, and the ugly,” he said. “Centered around Black resilience, which has been the core of this city for so many years and continues to do so.”

Hart says there are several stops people can make, ranging from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts to the former location of the Robert E. Lee statue, where you can hear and see these stories.

At each location, you can find a sticker with a QR code to scan and download the app. Once you download the app, you’ll be able to see this augmented reality come to life on your screen.

When you bring up the tour, familiar voices will narrate these stories.

“Being able to come to Monument Avenue, come to Arthur Ashe Boulevard, and see and hear Richmond’s real history right before your eyes is really something special,” Hart said.

Hart hopes this tool will be able to share these untold stories with the community.

“It’s not just telling the stories from the past that are more negative, but actually being able to tell those stories of Black resilience and be able to have them told from local residents right here in Richmond.”

Officials also hope this app will help students and community members weigh in on what comes next for Monument Avenue.

Hart says the full version of the app will be available in the next two to three weeks.

Before this happens, Hart says people can still download the app and give their feedback for the final version.

For more information on “Monumental Conversations,” click here.

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