Have you ever heard of Oleksa Novakivs'kyj or, perhaps, Elene Akhvlediani? These painters from Ukraine and Georgia, respectively, are known in their home countries yet to a lesser degree abroad. It holds for many other artists world-wide whose works may be displayed in various cultural institutions, from small-sized galleries to well-known big museums. Small-sized institutions are numerous, less known to a larger audience, potentially in remote locations, and less frequented by tourists. They are more vulnerable in the times like ours and artTour is meant to increase their exposure by offering interactive tours, where the audience can actively engage with an expert from a museum and learn more about its history and exhibits. A survey with potential visitors has revealed that they will be interested in taking such tours for a fee, where the majority of respondents indicated a fee between 5 and 10 euro per hour. The audience has mentioned the following benefits from booking such tours:

  • comfort
  • informativeness (e.g., having an expert providing an explanation)
  • digital interactive features
  • social aspect, e.g. being able to book them with friends located elsewhere

What it does

At this moment, the solution is deployed as a web site that allows to register users, book tours, and add or update information about museums.

How I built it

I have opted for a serverless solution using the serverless framework ('infrastructure as code') that does not require provisioning of servers and is cost-effective and scalable. It includes a definition of AWS resources, such as Cognito User Pools for user authentication, DynamoDB for storage, Lambda functions, and SES for messaging. The front-end is built in React.

Challenges I ran into

I have envisioned a system that would take care of everything from registration to calls. The challenges I ran into were often related to the front-end as this was the first time for me using React. I also realised that some services, such as SES, are by default in the sandbox, and hence I needed to verify all e-mail addresses upfront.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

This challenge allowed me to think in terms of a solution, the plethora of services AWS has to offer and I have learned a lot about serverless architecture.

What I learned

I have used AWS services in the past, but mostly compute instances and storage. I am a fierce proponent of a command line and, even though it would easy to configure everything using a very intuitive UI, I opted for a infrastructure as code. This is the knowledge I will definitely re-use in the future. Also, on the front-end side I have learned quite a bit about React.

What's next for artTour

Based on the feedback I have received from potential visitors, there are many other AWS services that could be integrated into this solution, specifically Amazon Transcribe, Amazon Translate, and Amazon Elasticsearch. Also, I'm looking forward to running a pilot with a small institution.

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