Australian Sports Museum

As part of the recent redevelopment of the Australian Sports Museum, Sandpit produced the interactive A Day at the Races which focused on horse racing

Image supplied by Australian Sports Museum


A Day at the Races is an interactive where visitors are able to race a horse that they have coloured and named themselves

Sandpit worked with illustrator and designer Nick Lewis to achieve this stunning interactive. Visitors are invited to sit down and colour in a horse template with as much detail as they desire. When finished, the visitor makes their way over to the onboarding booth. At this booth the visitor can scan and name their horse before it is ready to race.

With a race happening every few minutes, the race is on! At the siren the horses take off to race around the track, and the winner is given all the fanfare we could muster.

My involvement on this project included:

  • user experience for the overall installation
  • user interface for the onboarding booths
  • animated elements across the booths, race, crowd and finishing screen
  • initial prototyping
  • testing
  • client documentation manuals

Interesting UX conundrums

Like many projects I worked on Sandpit, when you combine physical and digital there are an array of things to consider that are unique to each project. A Day at the Races, had a lot of intriguing UX conundrums we needed to consider. 

Four horse templates which show how the difference between colouring in with markers, pencils, and crayons.

With school groups prevalent and arguably the main demographic, how can we make the process quicker to avoid bottle necking, but still feel worth it as a visitor?

There were a few different methods we used to curtail this, both on a physical and digital front:

We made the horse templates A5 instead of A4. This not only meant that it was quicker for a visitor to complete their drawing, less drawing materials were required, and the templates could easily be printed on site using less paper.

I conducted a lot of prototyping to determine:

  • how often races should occur
  • how long we should give a visitor to choose a name
  • how long a race should be
  • and how many horses could participate in each race.

I used After Effects, technical limitations, and physical prototyping to determine these values.


What drawing materials should be used?

We roped in our developers kids to determine who would win when it came to markers, pencils, or crayons. We needed to consider how quick a visitor could finish the horse template (tying in with the first consideration), what showed best after scanning, and what could be cleaned off the tables and chairs easiest. With that in mind, crayons came out on top!


What happens if a visitor draws something obscene on their horse?

Moderation was a key consideration for this project, that offered a few options on how best to tackle it. There was moderation built into the backend that could determine when a swear word, or a predictable appendage was drawn. Instead of not letting these horses participate and the visitor thinking the machine was at fault, we settled on the horse participating but stripping all colour and it competing uncoloured. This wasn’t perfect, as a bunch of twelve year olds soon discovered. We were horrified to discover horses with swastikas, and worse after a user testing session.

There was a backup manual moderation function, where a staff member could strip the design through an internal website, and the horse would transform to uncoloured. If these moderation methods failed, each race lasted less than three minutes which meant to horse would be put out to pasture relatively quickly regardless.


What if a visitor puts something other than paper in the scanning booth?

It does lead to some pretty fun, and surprising results as you can see with a set of keys. However, to avoid encouraging this and potentially damaging the hardware the design was stripped when this occurred and the horse competed uncoloured.



This is a unique website which will require a more modern browser to work!

Please upgrade today!