Virtual and augmented reality apps bring museums back to life. Literally.

Google launched Tango. The platform offers a full AR experience of the exhibition containing visualizations, quizzes and games. In other words, it offers a contemporary experience for museums, and we couldn’t be more excited about it.

AR for museums

1. Why does a museum app make the difference?

There have been previous examples of museums launching apps to enhance the experience of the visit.

  • Resurrects: generates 3D motions in real-life settings
  • Immerses: provides 360° experience environments
  • Engages: offers gaming techniques and interactivity during the museum visit

Fact is: the main purpose of museums is to entertain and educate. The difference with AR and VR apps is that they can edutain: they combine the best of both worlds. Offering an immersive experience can only enhance the effect on a museum’s visitors.

2. Augmented reality: edutainment is taking over

Augmented reality has the power to enhance reality. In museum context, it offers the opportunity to enhance the pieces on display.

Imagine they ever dig up the Titanic. AR would enable visitors to view the boat in its original state while looking at what is left of it.

Current applications of AR apps offer:

  • Painting restorations, offering a view on the painting in its original state
  • Fun & engaging content for younger museum visitors and schools
  • An interactive experience, moving away from a set of objects on display

On top of that, augmented reality creates an enormous opportunity when it comes to storytelling. A set of objects is no longer just a set of objects. They are part of a great experience and a story that the visitor can unfold and discover through interactive media. We’re moving past reading signs with basic information, we’re talking true experience.

3. VR movies and 3D virtual reality: beyond the tour guide

Films playing in museums are nothing new under the sun. But it is weird when you don’t know at which point you are tuning in, and the videos just play in a loop.

Why not optimize the video experience and make it something visitors can actually engage in? That is what VR is all about. Several VR movies have been created for museums already, same as VR discovery areas. Dreams of Dali in the Salvador Dali Museum, for example, offers the unique experience of actually walking through a Dali painting. It brings art discovery to a whole new level.

On top of that, virtual reality can upgrade exhibitions with virtual tours. A set of Roman artefacts can get an extra layer of meaning if you can actually explore it in its original context. And the same holds true for contemporary pieces: the setting often adds meaning. So why not use VR to provide this to the visitors?

4. When tech and culture are just a great combo

Cultural institutions are afraid of tech taking over. Everything is available online. Everything without the experience that is. Which is why the experience is exactly what museums should invest in. And AR and VR are the perfect opportunity.

Creating visual tour guides, making objects resurrect. Providing edutainment instead of either entertainment or education. Engage visitors. And most of all: make stories come to life. Augmented and virtual reality can do all that. And it will bring back the experience to museums in a way that can only boost their image and attract visitors.

Got a great idea? We can probably make it happen. Let's talk!