In 2021, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) launched Monumental Perspectives in partnership with Snap Inc. The multiyear initiative pairs local artists with technologists from the Snap Lens Creator program to produce monuments in augmented reality (AR). The first part of the series featured artists including I.R. Bach, Mercedes Dorame, and Glenn Kaino, whose AR monuments aimed to highlight lesser-seen communities and neighborhoods across Los Angeles.

Earlier this week, in time for this year’s International Day for Monuments and Sites, the museum released the second round of AR experiences from the collaborative project.

What happened

In Monumental Perspectives II, AR works by three artists take inspiration from the changing landscapes and histories of Los Angeles. Image: “What The Willow Whispers” by Sandra de la Loza / Snap Inc

Monumental Perspectives II showcases two environmentally-themed and one civil history-themed AR pieces: Judy Baca’s “The River Once Ran,” which revives the Los Angeles River with running water, stones, plants, and animals; Sandra de la Loza’s “What The Willow Whispers,” featuring the life cycle of a willow tree in the Willowbrook neighborhood; and Kang Seung Lee’s “la revolución es la solución!” at Algin Sutton Recreation Center, which remembers the activism that followed the 1991 murder of 15-year-old Latasha Harlins.

To view the virtual monuments, viewers can access the in-app Snap Map and locate the works to visit in-person in Los Angeles. Audiences elsewhere can also access the works remotely by scanning Snapcodes.

Why it matters

LACMA x Snap: Monumental Perspectives II

“AR gives this accessibility to people who have difficulties come visit museums and also create unexpected encounters in your everyday life,” said Kang Seung Lee. Image: “la revolución es la solución!” by Kang Seung Lee / Snap Inc

Monumental Perspectives reappears at a time when AR continues to be much-adopted by cultural organizations for its ease of use and accessibility. As artist Kang Seung Lee reflected, “AR gives this accessibility to people who have difficulties come visit museums and also create unexpected encounters in your everyday life.” That the technology remains relevant as ever demonstrates its ongoing durability and versatility.

Over the past year and over lockdowns, projects such as the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens’ Seeing The Invisible and Design Museum’s Landmarker (where Snap Inc is a partner) have also showed how phygital experiences can be built on AR, enabling visitors everywhere to access any particular program. Given that museums may never be able to rely on pure in-person attendance in a post-lockdown world, AR is bound to endure in cultural experiences.

What they said​​

“These AR monuments explore the evolution of Los Angeles and communities within it. We’re thrilled to continue working with LACMA to bring awareness to the history of the city, as well as empower artists and Lens creators to educate the world through a new perspective with the help of AR.” — Bobby Murphy, Co-Founder and CTO, Snap INC

“Exploring themes of changing landscapes and memories, artists Judy Baca, Sandra de la Loza, and Kang Seung Lee engage with technology to memorialize communities and ecosystems that are deeply connected to Los Angeles.” – Michael Govan, CEO of LACMA, Director of Wallis Annenberg


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