The Crusader Bible: A Gothic Masterpiece AR Translations

Augmented Reality translations of text in illustrations from the Crusader Bible. Blanton Museum of Art, 2015


This application provided visitors to the exhibition The Crusader Bible: A Gothic Masterpiece with real-time Augmented Reality (AR) translations of text from the Morgan Library’s “Crusader” bible. Each illustration from the bible featured Judeo-Persian, Persian, and Latin summaries of each illustration, reflecting the different owners of the bible over time. Providing English translations of each of these summaries helped visitors to understand the differences in the way stories were interpreted by each owner.

Using commercial software, we created an augmented reality (AR) application that allowed visitors to hold a tablet up to the cases and see English translations of each language on top of the original text. Because the app was pre-loaded on the tablet, the barrier to participation was extremely low, with visitors needing only to pick up the tablet and point it at one of the objects in the gallery.


We used off-the-shelf commercial software for creating the AR layer, which kept the entire process fairly lightweight. English translations for each object were already available on the Morgan Library’s website, so the process involved loading an image of the given object into the software, uploading the translated text, and targeting the correct translations to the image so they would appear in the correct orientation (with the English translation of the Persian text appearing directly over the Persian text in the object, the translation of the Latin text appearing over the Latin text, and so forth).


Visitor response was positive. AR, despite being commercially available for over a decade, is still a technology that few people have really experienced in the wild, so it still feels a bit magical. The tech dazzle faded extremely quickly for most visitors, which left them really studying the content and noticing the differences between the three translations, which was exactly what we wanted. Takeup rate was around 15%, with the average usage time (in a single small gallery) being 3 minutes.