The Future Of Museums With Augmented Reality

The Future Of Museums With Augmented Reality

Artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR) are closely connected technologies that developers may mix to create unique experiences. At its heart, augmented reality is a fusion of digital and physical surroundings.

The technique of employing technology to overlay visuals, text, or music on top of what a person can already see is known as augmented reality. Changing an existing image is as simple as downloading an app on your smartphone or tablet and running it. Devices are held aloft by the user in front of a picture. They’ll see a distorted form of reality as a result of this. Museums might employ augmented reality in a variety of ways.

Many of the most well-known AR uses come from the gaming industry. Pokémon Go, for example, is a game in which players may “capture” Pokémon lurking in the real world. When a player looks at their device’s camera, animated animals appear on top of it. They appear to exist in the actual world because of technology. Nearly 11.5 million people have downloaded the app. As this demonstrates, augmented reality is not only feasible but also has the potential to reach a wide range of people.

What Is The Difference Between Augmented Reality And Virtual Reality?

Virtual reality immerses the user in a whole new world. AR, on the other hand, displays both the real world and a digitally changed representation. Virtual reality substitutes the user’s perception of reality with a virtual one. AR enhances the user’s perception of the world. Annotating scenes and supplying more information may be done using this tool. Putting scenes in perspective and highlighting differences with contemporary reality are other uses of this technique. Technology including headgear, controllers and sensors are required for virtual reality (VR). Apps for augmented reality experiences can be downloaded on a smartphone or tablet.

How Might Augmented Reality Be Used In Museums?

The use of augmented reality (AR) in museums has a wide range of potential applications. The simplest way to utilise it is to include a description of each item. Because of this, visitors will be able to learn more about exhibitions through AR. It may potentially be used by museums to show digital representations of artists next to their works of art in galleries. The narration is then provided by these 3D characters. Adding a third dimension to screens is made possible by the use of augmented reality (AR). The use of AR is already widespread at a number of institutions throughout the world. These initiatives add new elements to existing collections and draw in new audiences, making them more appealing. Here are some creative use of augmented reality in museums.

Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle

When Microsoft’s Hololens was released in June 2021, the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle in Paris launched an Augmented Reality (AR) experience employing it. Visitors to the “REVIVRE” (“To Live Again”) initiative were able to interact with virtual versions of now-extinct species.

The National Gallery

This Augmented reality experience will allow visitors to explore the National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, and Royal Academy of Arts collections via their smartphones in the year 2021. The QR codes on the artworks in London’s main streets were activated via an app.

The National Museum of Singapore

Story of the Forest is now on display at Singapore’s National Museum. 69 drawings from the William Farquhar Collection of Natural History Drawings are on display in this show. Visitors are able to engage with these three-dimensional animations. Use the camera on your phone or tablet to explore the artworks after downloading an app for smartphones and tablets.

The educational exhibit, which is suitable for children of all ages, makes use of cutting-edge technology. Visitors may go on a treasure hunt and ‘catch’ goods, just as in the popular mobile game Pokémon Go. The flora and animals shown in the artwork serve as an example of this. They may then add them to their virtual museum collection as they wander around. Once they’ve been gathered, the app displays further details about them. Information on the species’ habitat, diet, and rarity may all be found here.

An significant part of the museum’s holdings are the William Farquhar Natural History Drawing Collection. This augmented reality piece was created by the Japanese digital art collective teamLab. The visuals may be explored and interacted with in a fresh and fascinating way by the audience.

The Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto

The AGO collaborated with Alex Mayhew, a digital artist, to develop an AR installation called ReBlink in July 2017. Mayhew reworked several of the collection’s previous works. Visitors were able to see them in a new light as a result of this.

As a result of the usage of smartphones and tablets, visitors were able to watch the exhibits come to life and experience them in the present day. George Agnew Reid’s picture Drawing Lots, for example, features three people. In a secluded area, they gaze intently at their game. Individual phone displays occupy each of the three characters in Mayhew’s contemporary reimagining. Behind, a trail of smoky traffic. Mayhew is fascinated by the impact of technology on our daily lives. He argues that since we are continuously inundated with visuals, we are consuming art at a faster rate.

The artist’s goal was to use augmented reality (AR) as a method to engage rather than distract the audience. People were encouraged to gaze up rather than down at the display by using the app. Eighty-four percent of visitors to this show, according to the AGO’s Interpretive Planner Shiralee Hudson Hill, felt engaged by the work. After utilizing the app, 39 percent of respondents re-examined the photographs.

The Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.

One of the Smithsonian’s most popular exhibitions was given a new lease of life in 2017 when augmented reality (AR) was installed. The museum’s Bone Hall contains a number of skeletons that have been on display since 1881. There is a new Skin and Bone app that visitors may use to view the exhibits in a fresh way.

The program has 13 skeletons, which are reconstructed by superimposing photos. To help users visualize how the creatures would have appeared and moved, we’ve added animations to the bones. An added benefit of this is that it allows visitors to have a better idea of the items’ past lives and history. Visitors may use the app to watch a vampire bat fly or an anhinga fish using virtual reality technology.

As Robert Costello put it, “This app is about exposing some of the unknown tales behind one of the museum’s most renowned collections.” He is the app’s producer and the Museum of Natural History’s national outreach program manager.

The Pérez Art Museum, Miami

PAMM collaborated with Felice Grodin, a visual artist, in December 2017. Invasive Species’ was the first completely augmented reality art show that they collaborated on. Here, augmented reality enhances existing artwork. For this project, however, Grodin’s work is entirely digital. Intended to be an immersive virtual reality experience, conjuring a variety of visuals into an empty environment

Digital photos of several species were utilized in the creation of the piece. Models that evoke creepy crawlies, jellyfish, or cryptic clues are among the many options available in this category. Felice aspired to engage with the building’s architecture in order to alter it. The exhibition is a remark on the fragility and danger of our eco-system. Visitors are transported to a future version of the building when invasive organisms have taken over the structure. The 49-foot-tall jellyfish-like structure of ‘Terrafish,’ for example, invades the hanging gardens of PAMM. Non-native species populate the waterways near Miami, and this resembles them.

Jennifer Inacio, the curator of PAMM, feels that art may serve as a vehicle for discussion. This is what she wanted to happen: “The eerie pieces the artist made are supposed to bring spectators into the serious issue of climate change, but in an engaging and interactive way.”

The Kennedy Space Centre, Merritt Island

Visitors at the Kennedy Space Center’s Merritt Island AR may see historical events in 3D. The Heroes and Legends exhibition at the Kennedy Space Center is an excellent illustration of this. Here, an augmented reality (AR) experience depicts an important milestone in the history of the United States space program.

For the second time in history, astronaut Gene Cernan went into space. That spacewalk from hell was a subsequent nickname for it. As a result of the heat in his suit, he spun out of control and lost his ability to see. An AR hologram of astronaut Gene Cernan is superimposed on a picture of the Gemini 9 spacecraft. Tourists may watch as he battles to re-enter the capsule. An additional voiceover describes Cernan’s own experience.

Throughout the show, holograms are used. The personnel who worked on the space program now have a face and a voice because to this new technology. It is possible for visitors to hear stories from NASA luminaries in their own words.

Are There Any Hazards Of Utilising Augmented Reality In Museums?

One of the issues that PAMM had regarding the usage of AR was the perception that technology might be isolating. Having people engaged in the world on their phones and being in their own bubble would have gone opposed to what the artist sought to achieve. In actual fact, it was discovered that people were utilizing the technology jointly. Groups were swapping screens and discussing what they could see. The show even had the potential to engage strangers in a discussion.

Another worry is that this new technology might exclude elder generations. Digital natives and millennials are likely to accept such installations in their stride. Older folks might perhaps struggle or feel left out. Again, PAMM confirmed that this was not the case. Many of the attendees to their AR show were aged 55+. This age group reported having a pleasant experience.

There have been some incidents of unapproved augmentations. The most notable example is from 2018 when a group of painters ‘took over’ MoMA’s Jackson Pollock display. If visitors downloaded the app, they were able to see how these artists had reinterpreted the artworks. There was also an Instagram post promoting it to get more likes. Some of the examples above are quite similar to this one in terms of the principle. However, in this instance, the institution had not given its consent to the artists. For them, it was an attempt to remark on the museum’s role as “culture gatekeepers.”

Who Knows What The Future Holds For Museums And Augmented Reality?

The possibilities for augmented reality in museums are nearly limitless. Although virtual reality has become more affordable, it is still prohibitively expensive in some circumstances. Specialist equipment is required. AR may be used to bring displays to life at a lower cost.

They already have a lot of information and a willingness to engage people in conversation. This information can also be conveyed through the use of augmented reality. It piques the interest of those who see it. An artist explaining his work in virtual reality has the potential to increase participation. An animated skeleton can help visitors grasp new ideas. Blending the ancient with the modern can even serve to contextualize history. It’s possible, for example, to see historical scenes overlaid with contemporary ones.

Exhibitions may be kept in the minds of visitors for a longer period of time thanks to this new technology. After conducting a survey, the AGO went ahead and opened its AR installation. Only 2.31 seconds were spent in front of each of the museum’s images, according to the study. Museums may utilize augmented reality (AR) technology to entice visitors in a fast-paced world where they aren’t necessarily eager to stay for long.

Larry Covert
Editor-in-Chief Larry has worked a decade in finance, for an international bank where he saw before his eyes how his former company invested on almost everything that has something to do with technology and advancement. This inspired him to create the company along with his then newly-formed team of professionals from different fields, different walks of life.