PHQ Studios 2 Ancient Greeks: Athletes, Warriors, and Heroes

  • Ngā Kaimahi / Team Member
    PHQ Studios
  • Client
    Auckland War Memorial Museum
Judge's comments:

Delightful. Simplistic yet compelling. Brought the subject matter to life and made it contemporary and engaging. The design, animation and implementation was faultless.


‘Ancient Greeks: Athletes, Warriors, and Heroes’ is a major international exhibition from the British Museum’s world-renowned Greek collection and is the largest selection ever loaned to Aotearoa. Bringing together a wide range of over 170 artefacts, the exhibition is centered on the theme of competition showcasing life in the Ancient World.

The exhibition was developed in partnership with the Western Australia Museum in Perth and the National Museum of Australia in Canberra. The opportunity to host the exhibition also offered the opportunity to augment the experience for family audiences. The objective was to create a story-telling experience to contextualise the objects on display, revealing their significance and uncovering the stories they tell in an accessible, meaningful, and overall enjoyable way.

PHQ Studios were approached to pitch for the delivery of four unique short projection-mapped storytelling experiences. The brief was to surprise, delight, and inform visitors; bringing the stories of the exhibition to life in front of them.

Our response proposed a flexible animated storytelling experience, translated across different thematic areas of the exhibition. It accommodated several users and viewers at any one time and contextualised the physical objects, revealing their significance and uncovering their stories.

In practice this involved two distinct approaches:

'Moving Amphoras' involved the creation of prop amphoras that were brought to life with projection mapping. By animating in an authentic illustrative style and reinforcing with audio, the narrative role of the ancient artworks was unleashed for the modern viewer.

'Moving Frieze' was created to celebrate the highlight of the collection, a 2-meter-long frieze from the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus - one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The ‘Moving Frieze’ also involved the creation of a prop, this time a frieze-frame that was illustrated with projection mapping and audio. In it, painstaking 3D animation rendered the beautiful marble figures with a life of their own.

Technically the pieces needed multiple sophisticated solutions to be realised at the standard the exhibition required. For ‘Moving Amphoras’ various projection mapping techniques were used to correct distortions, give a painted-on effect, and interact with artfully broken surfaces. In one piece, the battles of the ancient Greek islands are played out on amphora fragments suggesting the eastern Mediterranean. The armies can be seen sailing their ships from piece to piece, with the negative space becoming the Aegean Sea.

The ‘Moving Frieze’ was created to sit above the audience and included a false sense of depth that made the piece more visually dynamic. By representing the full frieze and then coming to life with different storylines fading in and out, a complex narrative was made simpler and more engaging.

All of the digital installations have been displayed in both Perth and Canberra and have been popular for visitors to the exhibition. Each experience offers a modern moment of discovery for visitors and immerses the viewer into the stories in a fun, meaningful, and enjoyable way.