Using AR and VR in Museums

November 29, 2018

As technology has advanced, so have the ways in which we educate and tell stories. From interactive stories and games that engage and educate, to VR and AR being used in museums to create unique experiences. Recently, there has been a rise in the use of AR and VR in museums with history museums, science museums, heritage sites etc, taking advantage of augmented and virtual reality technology to teach and educate their audiences.

VR Use in Museums

We are already being a big uptake in museums commissioning Virtual Reality experience to go alongside exhibits. The National History Museum's recently launched a brand new VR experience Hold the World; Which gives users the ability to access areas and the objects within them not open to the public. Guided by Sir David Attenborough, users will be able to interact with different artefacts and explore the museum in VR space. Hold the World is a great use of VR in a museum and gives the user a unique experience that wouldn’t be possible without the use of VR technology.

With Sir Attenborough quoted as saying

It really is one of the most convincing and bewitching experiences that the world of technology has yet produced.

Having this type of VR experience within a museum allows visitors to better engage with the contents of the museum. This is especially effective with younger audiences who are sometimes likely to be less engaged with traditional museum exhibitions etc. These type of VR experiences allow museums to present a unique experience, targeting new audiences to their museum and create a way in which to advertise and attract new visitors. Engaging audiences in a fun, engaging and educational way is the way forward for virtual reality use in museums.

AR Use in Museums

AR is now incredibly prominent in the technology we use, with Pokemon GO leading the way for consumer AR use. The famous Smithsonian Museum recently introduced a mobile AR app called Skin and Bones. In Skin and Bones, users can augment the exhibits found within the Bone Hall which consists of various pieces of animal anatomy. For example, you can watch the now extinct stellar sea cow go from just bones to being fully formed with skin and hair etc. The game incorporates audio, games and questionnaires to create a unique way for visitors to engage with Bone Hall. Similar experiences try to gamify the museum experience by challenging players to hunt for different artifacts, animals etc, like the National Museum of Singapore has done with Story of the Forest.

Using augmented reality technology in museums, it transforms the way in which visitors interact with museums. AR applications like that in the Smithsonian Museum provides a unique experience that would not be possible without the use of augmented reality technology.

It’s clear that AR and VR will have a presence at museums in the future. For science museums, VR experiences like Hold the World will further engage and fascinate people with the world around them. AR experiences like Skin and Bones will add a further dimension to education in history museums. VR and AR will continue to engage audiences and provide experiences for museums visitors.

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