Walking Cinema: Museum of the Hidden City Mobile App

Michael Epstein

Founder, Walking Cinema

Walking Cinema

339 Liberty St San Francisco, CA 94114 United States


MUSE Mobile App Award 2020



An Immersive Museum of Housing History in the Streets of San Francisco



Museum of the Hidden City is a narrative audio and augmented reality app that immerses audiences in the turbulent history of redevelopment in San Francisco. The story focuses on competing visions of social justice: one from the world of modern architecture and another from the world of African American, neighborhood churches. Using the built environment, small installations, immersive audio and augmented reality, this app (that won the 2020 AAM Gold Muse Award for Best Mobile App) transports audiences to a key moment when San Francisco and many American cities were trying to figure out how to improve neighborhoods without erasing their culture and history.


The project was developed by San-Francisco-based studio Walking Cinema that specializes in interactive media that changes the way people see history. For this project, Walking Cinema received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and partnered with Youth Speaks, a local poetry foundation, to source the narration and lyrical scripting for the project. The San Francisco Weekly called the project, “a 75 minute academic and literary exploration of one of the darkest and most significant moments in San Francisco’s history. This tour is an engaging, novel way to learn about the city, all while keeping your distance from others. And the stories it tells — about racism, affordable housing, and the evolution of neighborhoods— feel profoundly relevant.” The project is free and continues to be open to the public--even during COVID--and is about to start its third year running. Neighborhood businesses, churches, and nonprofits continue to house Museum of the Hidden City installations and a lecture series around the project will be launching in fall 2021.




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