As a gift to Richmond, VA, the city in which it is headquartered, ARtGlass created a free public 90-minute walking tour exploring the origins, impacts, and future of Monument Avenue, the road that once showcased America’s best-known collection of Confederate monuments until social justice protests in July 2020 led to the removal of all but one. Following the Civil War, Confederate monuments were erected in public spaces to assert white supremacy and to oppress African Americans. As the United States continues to contend with racial and social justice issues, the meaning and fate of monuments that fail to represent our shared American values are being debated throughout the country.
ARtGlass—working at the intersection of monuments, technology, and education—developed this tour to offer historical contextualization and docent-led dialogues about the contentious monument debates in Richmond and beyond. The AR tour content adapts in near-real time to drive highly meaningful and responsive public engagement as conversations around these monuments evolve. User surveys show the immense power of AR to foster empathy and contemplation. In June 2021, The Valentine, a century-old museum in Richmond, partnered with ARtGlass to adopt the tour and run docent-led experiences.