AR,VR and museums may seem two distant concepts, but they are perfectly synergistic since, if used in combination, can create profound and memorable experiences.
The digital evolution that is affecting many areas of the economy also concerns museums. More and more visitors demand for emotional, engaging and more informative experiences.
Augmented and Virtual Reality can be the perfect tools to provide a real immersive visit experience, since that can enrich the existing environment with new elements and help the visitors retain their memories for longer. Moreover, such an increased engagement makes them want to share their experiences with other potential visitors, both by word or month or by sharing their thoughts on social media.
AR technologies support museums to reach a new level of interaction with visitors and offer them a unique opportunity to look at the world around them from a different perspective. Augmented reality gives traditional museums the possibility to incorporate elements of dynamism and movement into their interiors, catching the attention of the public and engaging new visitors.
The relationship between Augmented Reality and museums aims to enhance the artistic and cultural heritage and to offer a memorable journey, fully involving the visitor, making her feel an integral part of the experience, enriching the enjoyment of works of art with extra information and interactive content. By connecting with some kind of devices, for example a smartphone or a tablet, offered by the museum itself, the visitor becomes more involved and active. In some cases Museums may also release some kind of mobile app that visitors can download and experience on their own devices.
In order to engage visitors through Augmented and Virtual Reality, museums must integrate innovative but also functional technologies. No visitor would be attracted by applications or devices that are too difficult or cumbersome to use. The visitor experience must be easy and intuitive, and the solutions adopted must be almost invisible and non-invasive.
What are the benefits and advantages of AR in museums?
The choice of integrating Augmented Reality in museums gives the possibility to expand the target audience. Experiences can be created with customised thematic paths for children, combining the experience of learning and knowledge with play. Gamification, for example, is an experience that is enriched by the addition of fun challenges, quizzes, puzzles and much more. The more fun it is, the more little visitors will learn and remember. With gamification, visitors can be taken on a journey that includes small mysteries to be solved in order to discover curiosities and include fun and engaging elements into the journey.
AR technologies help museums to reach a new level of interaction with visitors and offer them a unique opportunity to look at the world around them from a different perspective.
The decision to offer visitors an emotional as well as informative and experiential path of knowledge transmission is effective and attractive especially for the younger generations.
Augmented reality technologies can also help visitors interact with different touchpoints, online and offline, from the website, social media, brochures to multimedia guides, increasing engagement.
Summing it up, AR and VR have many important advantages for museums such as:
- Engaging and expanding the target audience
- Creating increasingly personalised experiences
- Offering visitors a new, fun and memorable way of learning
- Creating additional revenue streams through Premium tickets
What are the most common AR and VR use cases for a museum?
Depending on the nature and typology of Musemus, Augmented and Virtual Reality can enable a number of different use cases, let’s explore them together.
A new way to look at paintings with AR and VR
With the use of Augmented Reality, the visitor pointing the phone’s camera towards a work of art can experience additional content. The user can listen to the description and the story of a work directly from the artist; they can hear ancient songs, street noises, chattering, bringing back to the present the typical environment of the time when the work was created. Extinct animals may come back to life, interacting with the little ones.
The various ancient wars and battles could be relieved at first hand, scientific demonstrations would be explained with concrete examples. Frescos could be seen by the visitor as new or retrace with the artist the creation of the artwork; paintings could be brought to life and interact with the visitor.
Sculptures and buildings can be brought back to life
The same is true for sculptures or other tridimensional objects exhibited in museums. Immersive technologies can help focus the visitors’ attention on specific elements of a work of art, with the help of 3D highlights superimposed on the real object.
AR and VR have proven to be very useful especially when the goal is to show a visitor how certain pieces of art or ruines used to look like in their former glory.
Discover museums through a virtual tour guide
When guide tours are not available AR and VR come in support by providing 3D avatars or holograms that can guide the visitors through a predefined path and help them get the best out of the Museum, helping them to discover and experience even the most hidden gems.
Preview the museum experience at home
Who said Augmented and Virtual Reality can only be used inside a museum? In order to tempt and intrigue potential visitors, Museums may release public AR/VR mobile apps that let users get some anticipation of what they can find inside the museum, something very similar to what happens with movie trailers.
A visitors’ journey can start comfortably from the sofa, at home, and continue with the real visit in the museum. App in this case may even provide a way to buy the tickets at a special discount.