5 opportunities for museums in the digital world
Virtual reality is on everyone’s lips. And not just because the gaming industry is using this technology, but because more and more companies are discovering this medium with all its advantages for themselves. The free movement of the user in the virtual world and the presentation of objects in three-dimensional space is already possible in theory – but what does it look like in practice?
Virtual reality is also very interesting for cultural institutions like museums and exhibitions because of the possibilities in three-dimensional space. We have tested some of these and present them along with their differences.
The German Museum has built up its exhibition completely as a virtual tour for enthusiastic museum visitors. Here you can walk through the entire museum and view all exhibits and all rooms have been prepared as 360° photos.
Unfortunately, the image quality is sometimes insufficient, so that most of the texts cannot be read. At some exhibits, however, there is a button that shows a short text, which can also be played as audio.
There are a few small errors here, though, so you can walk through walls, for example.
2. The Louvre
Like the German Museum, the Louvre in Paris was brought to life using 360° photos. Here you can very nicely see a difference to the first one. The interaction possibilities are much more varied. Arrows can be clicked to move, magnifying glasses show exhibits that can be viewed enlarged and question marks give background information about the exhibits. Unfortunately, the texts are only in French and audios are not available at all.
Unlike the first and second virtual museums, the FC Bayern Munich Experience was built entirely in VR. The difference there is between the different types of virtual exhibitions you can see clearly. During the virtual tour through the experience world, you immediately realize that these are not photos, but a virtual world.
After passing through the vestibule, you find yourself in the Time Tunnel, where you can interactively experience the most important milestones of FC Bayern Munich. With videos and interactive tools you explore and experience this museum and dive into the history of the club. To get more information about the milestones there is a virtual guide. This is none other than Giovane Elber. The Experience is free and can be downloaded after registration. An image gallery shows what the experience looks like without giving too much away.
The British Museum has created a digital offer in cooperation with google arts culture. This is not a virtual tour or virtual museum visit, but an online exhibition that shows various exhibits in a timeline. Unlike the three previous tours, there is no virtual room in this case.
The timeline shows different points at which excavation objects are presented. For each exhibit there is an accompanying text, which can also be played as audio, as well as a Google Maps map on which you can see the excavation site.
Beautifully implemented is the timeline through different eras, as well as the various filter functions such as continent of origin and subject area.
It is a pity that the objects are only shown as photos and not as three-dimensional objects. One could therefore say that it is more of an online exhibition than a virtual tour.
Nevertheless, there are many interesting objects to explore in this exhibition.
The Vincent van Gogh Museum uses a very different approach than the previous examples.
It has illustrated all the paintings related to Vincent van Gogh on the website and also provided the entire information about each painting. Additionally, the museum offers a tour via video on YouTube. Combining both options, one can stop the video and then read through the texts about the paintings on the website. This way, you get the same information as in the real museum, albeit a bit more cumbersome.
Additionally, the museum offers tutorials on painting on the website, as well as a few games and informational resources for kids.
Even if it’s not a virtual experience where you can make your own selections, it’s still a lot of fun, certainly for the little ones.
The possibilities for museums and exhibitions are manifold. Depending on budget and requirements, some good virtual museum tours have already been developed and implemented. With more information like videos, audios or interaction possibilities like in the museum, this would become an actual alternative to the real museum visit.
Here, one could consider, as with the FC Bayern VR Experience, to develop the virtual offers detached from the museum and to work even more with interaction. For some offers, a guided tour through the museum would already be sufficient to achieve a greater fun and knowledge factor. For example, one could create an avatar at various stations that tells something about the various exhibits. Also the possibility to touch the exhibits and to look at them from all sides would be a clear advantage to create an immersive experience.