Mount Vernon in a New Lens

George Washington was a fan of the latest technology and was himself an inventor. The new augmented reality tour of the estate experienced through smart glasses would surely have impressed him! While the tour is now available for visitors, we want to look behind the scenes at the tour creation process of this unique experience.

Visitors are likely familiar with the indoor tour of the iconic and historic Mansion, so the ARtGlass and Mount Vernon team decided instead to focus on the stories of the outdoor estate and the people who called Mount Vernon home. With six unique stops spread throughout the estate, visitors experience the development of the property through character holograms, 3D models, panoramic experiences and compelling narrative audio.

Behind the scenes: Green screen for holograms of enslaved laundresses. In the tour, you see them in one of Mount Vernon’s yards where they would have originally worked. This project was a large undertaking and required the talents of actors, filmmakers, 3D modelers, animators, and a sundry assortment of producers and project managers. One actor, Jamar Jones, portrayed George, a member of Mount Vernon’s enslaved community. Throughout the tour, guests will hear from various characters, including George and Martha Washington, to better understand what life was like at Mount Vernon.

"Bringing to life the stories of those enslaved at Mount Vernon was an enriching experience," said Jones. "Standing on the grounds of where they lived made the experience even more visceral." 

The tour acquaints guests with the physical features of the land, such as the planning and planting of the trees and flowers and also covers seasonal activities such as Washington’s fishing operation as well as the events of one fateful December. Covering such a wide range of topics required the expertise of multiple departments at Mount Vernon, and the tour showcases their collective knowledge.

Filming the Washingtons arriving at home.Even if you have seen the Mansion dozens of times, you will find new views of the historic home as we take you through the evolution of the estate with AR. Mount Vernon’s architectural experts worked with a 3D modeler to create recreations of previous versions of the Mansion and the outbuildings. These 3D models were painstakingly created to be true to form, right down to the doorknobs and shingles.

Ensuring Accuracy

First Image
Second Image

A photograph of the mansion and a marked-up version of the 3D model indicating needed adjustments.

From the production studio to the Potomac, the process of re-envisioning the estate and landscape the world knows so well required looking through new lenses. Visitors can now enjoy this perspective with Mount Vernon in AR.

ARtGlass is the first company in the world to bring wearable AR to the arts and cultural sector. The company’s early success is rooted in its team’s combination of leading-edge technologists, substantive specialists in art, archeology, architecture, landscapes and strategists experienced in public engagement at historical, museum and cultural sites. 

by Greg Werkheiser, CEO of ARtGlass

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