The Future of Galleries & Museums is Immersive VR & AR Tech
When Michelangelo’s David goes on tour, the exhibit never has trouble selling tickets. And while many a museum may have hordes of 5th graders stumbling out of a line of school buses making their way into the latest dino attraction, the industry of museums, galleries, and similar exhibitions are always seeking ways to bring in the public.
There's a natural dynamic that VR and AR experiences seem to share with these types of public attractions. Firstly, the educational potential is huge. I recall my elementary school days experiencing a rudimentary VR experience at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle back in the 90s. While the overall experience was simple, it showed the massive potential of the technology. That in itself was fascinating and educational to learn about the emerging tech, and indeed that was the extent of its usefulness; to showcase the technology itself. The content of the experience was akin to some sort of mini golf like setting, but you certainly couldn't actually mini golf within the experience - it was merely a demo meant to showcase the tech. Nowadays VR is being used to transport the user to a world in which they actually experience something that they can learn from, that they can find joy, a fright or laughter from. Between trips to the water fountain and their sack lunch break 5th graders are finding themselves in the Paleolithic era watching ptaradactyls fly overhead while strange sounds emanate from the jungle. Even John Hammond would be impressed.
But this stuff clearly isn’t just for kids. Museums across the world are implementing Augmented Reality into their exhibits. While some applications of the tech may be as simple as getting facts about the painters life when looking at the painting through your phone screen, that certainly isn’t where this road ends. Some rogue AR enthusiasts have even gone full guerrilla and developed AR that fiddles with the artistic content of masterpieces. Seems harmless enough, unless perhaps you’re the museum displaying the paintings. Truly a publicity stunt like that just shows that the museums need to keep up and introduce their own apps with AR targets placed over the exhibits throughout their venues.
While AR is primed to lure a new crop out to museums and galleries, VR has the potential to open attendance to even larger numbers, through Virtual Museums and Virtual Galleries. Visiting the Louvre in your Deputy Dog pajama bottoms is certainly not far off. While rudimentary virtual tours of a few areas of the Louvre itself have been available to the public for years, an impending era of centimeter for centimeter virtual rebuild with photogrammetry and all the bells and whistles is descending upon the exhibition industry.