CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – Leaders at the Levine Museum of the New South are bringing history directly to the palm of your hand with a new app. The app premiered over the weekend and uses augmented reality. It’s the first of what could be many augmented reality exhibits coming from the museum.
The app focused on an area along South Brevard Street, which many consider to be part of Uptown. Back in the early 1900s, the area was known as the Brooklyn Neighborhood.
“Brooklyn was the largest black community in the Carolinas. It was a thriving community with more than 200 businesses,” said Levine Staff Historian, Dr. Willie Griffin.
The businesses and homes were spread out across more than 260 acres. Only a few of the original structures remain, like the historic Grace AME Zion Church, which is about a block away from the transportation center.
Much of the neighborhood disappeared in the 1960s as what is now known as Uptown continued to expand and prosper.
“I think a lot of people around the city are not aware of the Brooklyn neighborhood and what existed here in Second Ward,” said Director of Exhibits and Digital Experiences, Eric Scott.
The unknown is why the Levine Museum of the New South is literally bringing Brooklyn back in the form of the augmented reality app.
“Charlotte is known as a place that tears down history, but you can never really erase history,” said Dr. Griffin.
There are seven stops on a self-guided walking tour of the neighborhood. At each stop, you will find a sign that has a QR code to download the free museum app.
You plant your feet inside a green circle on the sidewalk and simply point your camera phone to see the Brooklyn Neighborhood come to life.
“In this digital era at Levine we really saw an opportunity to help bring back the city’s history that many people have forgotten,” said Dr. Griffin.
Planning to refresh the memories of Brooklyn started years ago, well before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Museum staff says the era of “social distancing” helped speed up the digital side of historic exhibits.
“We really hunkered down in developing this app so that once people could get back out mingle there is something they could do together in an open space and socially distanced,” said Scott.
Within the app is also a listening feature to tell the oral history of the historic sites within the Brooklyn Neighborhood.
You can also collect digital trophies along each stop, which also offers coupons to area businesses and restaurants.