How can virtual reality be applied to museums?
When you think of museums, what springs to mind? Exhibits packed with gangs of half interested school kids? Reams of text perfectly printed on placards? The world of the museum is changing.
“The world of the museum is changing”
Brimming with culture and pockets of both our present and past that we wouldn’t ordinarily have access to, museums are starting to make use of new technology, which will open them up to an even bigger audience. Tech which can transform the humble exhibit into an entirely interactive experience, where the eager viewer can actually immerse themselves in the history, rather than simply witnessing it through a block of text. So, how can virtual reality be applied to museums? We’re glad you asked.
1. Reimagine existing exhibits
The first way VR can be applied to museums, lies deep inside the surreal mind of Salvador Dali. Rather than simply showing viewers at the Dali Museum a work of art, they were met with the unique option to step inside it, in a fully immersive, technicolour experience.
“The virtual world could bring a whole new dimension to museums”
Held as part of the “Disney & Dali: Architects of Imagination” exhibition, this VR masterpiece blended virtual reality and the craft of modern design, with an already existing piece of art, to create a wander into the mind of the great painter himself. It’s a great example of how the virtual world can bring a whole new dimension to museums – even for those who are watching from their cardboard headsets back home.
2. Bring history to life
Another way this tech works perfectly with museums, is in bringing the distant past to life. Lost civilisations, unseen to the modern world, can suddenly interact with you in the virtual, modern day.
“When it comes to museums, VR is the gateway to the past”
Visitors to the British Museum witnessed life in the Bronze Age, all through a headset. As they wandered around the special exhibit, they could interact with real objects and state of the art 3D gadgets, which pulled them into the ancient world and showed them digital recreations – caked in mud and encased in gold. The centre of the dome exhibition transformed into a Bronze Age hut through the power of VR, complete with very convincing fire pit. It’s a great example of how when it comes to museums, Virtual Reality is the gateway to the past.
3. Bring the exhibit to you
Once you’ve brought the past into the present and you’ve recreated classic pieces in real (or rather, virtual) life, the last thing left to do is bring the exhibit to you. This technology is the perfect medium to create a virtual museum, people can enjoy from the comforts of their own home. Imagine wanting to wander the MoMA museum in New York but you can’t afford the plane ticket. A VR version is the next best thing to being there.
“Offering an up close and personal experience, that takes museums one step further”
For a virtual reality tour of the Natural History museum, Sky commissioned a new experience, called “Hold the World”, which allowed users to handle fossils from wherever they were in the world. And, for those Attenborough fans out there, a hologram version of Sir David himself guided users through the experience, offering an up close experience, that takes museums one step further. Rather than simply transposing the museum into a virtual experience, what this does well, is create a new level of interactivity – almost a whole new exhibit in itself.
With such exciting applications for museums and a whole host of ways to interact in new, immersive ways, we could all be witnessing the past, present and future in full VR form. But it shouldn’t be seen as a medium to replace museums – more a way to add an extra layer, which helps us connect to the wider world around us. Whether you’re wandering the mind of an artist, or reliving the Bronze Age, Virtual Reality is the future.
If you’re interested in chatting more about how this amazing tech could bring museums to life, or you’re looking to create your own immersive VR experience, drop us a line.