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Augmented Reality In Museums: 7 Success Stories

Augmented reality in museums

Museums play an important role in society. They are responsible for collecting, preserving, researching and presenting objects of historical importance with the purpose of bringing knowledge and enjoyment to the public.

Traditionally, museums tend to have a conservative exhibition style. However, a significant number of these institutions understand the importance of modernizing exhibits to better connect with the present-day public.

That is where augmented reality (AR) technology has been stepping in.

AR allows users to see an extra layer of digital content on top of real-world scenarios. Forward-thinking museums are working with this technology to give visitors a richer view and understanding of the origins, history, and details of artifacts on display.

Continue reading to learn how museums are bringing history to life with engaging AR experiences worldwide.

Top augmented reality experiences in museums

The Franklin Institute

App: Terracotta Warriors AR

Visitors can use the institution’s app to view augmented reality renderings and better understand the mystery of the Terracotta Army. The AR-enhanced exhibition includes representations of how the sculptures, weapons, and artifacts are predicted to have appeared more than two thousand years ago. An excellent way for users to explore the decay, discovery, archaeology, history, and preservation of the content found at the burial complex of China’s First Emperor Qin Shihuangdi.

Wikitude AR technology: SLAM (Simultaneous Localization and Mapping)

National Museum of African American History and Culture

App: The Washington Post Classic

Instead of using AR to layer digital content relevant to the exhibitions displayed inside the compound, this museum had its structure and the complexities of its construction featured in an art and architecture series created by The Washington Post. When exploring the story, readers have the option to experience AR enhancements for a better visual and overall understanding of Philip Kennicott’s highly-acclaimed critiques. A great example of when thinking outside the box pays off.

Wikitude AR technology: SLAM (Simultaneous Localization and Mapping)

Grand Palais

App: Artistes et Robots

This AR app was designed to help and entertain visitors before, during and after their visit. Users scan the exhibition catalog to view extra details of the project, including its location inside the exposition – perfect for planning. The app also allows users to scan the displayed artwork to trigger unique AR experiences. Apart from the free AR content and possibility to learn more about the artists, artworks and the entire exhibition itself, voyaging room by room, the visitor guide application also offers in-app purchase possibilities of audio guided courses in French, English or for children.

Wikitude AR technology: Image Recognition

Haus der Natur

App: one earth AR

The art section of the Haus der Natur museum displayed an AR-powered art show containing beautifully detailed satellite images of earth from high above. Through AR, visitors had the chance to interact and learn more about the displayed artwork. Some pieces triggered 3D model representations, while others presented informative video content and relevant geographic data.

Wikitude AR technology: Image recognition and Tracking

Museum of Celtic Heritage

App: The Speaking Celt

This innovative Salzburg-based museum found a very creative way to tell Celtic history. By using AR, an animated avatar guides visitors through the museum telling stories related to the displayed objects. This eye-to-eye story-telling makes the experience very personal, interactive and relatable.

Wikitude AR technology: Image Recognition; 3D Augmentations

The Archaeological Park Carnuntum

App: offered by the park as part of their guided tours

The largest preserved archaeological landscape in Central Europe is a fully-featured Gladiator school site of unprecedented detail. Its discovery inspired the creation of a 3D model replica of the school. Even though the site has not been excavated, AR technology allows users to see a virtually reconstructed city directly on site integrated into the true-to-scale model of Carnuntum, the capital of the Roman province Pannonia Superior. The 3D model is currently used at the Petronell Visitor Center and the AR app is offered by the park as part of their guided tours. Not a museum per se, however indeed an innovative way to showcase the past in a very modern setting.

Wikitude AR technology: geo-location; 3D Augmentations

Center on Contemporary Art

App: CoCA Pop-Up (AR)t

Seattle’s Center on Contemporary Art selected 18 different 3D artists to work on an AR-enhanced art volume entitled “Pop-up (AR)t”. Inspired by traditional pop-up books, CoCA used augmented reality to allow viewers to see three-dimensional artwork coming to life on each page of the book. At the book release, the institution organized an exhibition displaying each AR target for interactive public viewing.

Wikitude AR technology: Image Recognition; 3D Augmentations

These success stories demonstrate a mere fraction of AR’s potential. With AR, museums currently have the ability to provide dynamic tours guided by virtual humans (or even creatures) enriched with various AR props. Extinct animals can come to life, ancient battles can unfold, complex scientific demonstrations can take place, worn-out frescos can be viewed like new. The sky’s the limit.

AR is giving static museum displays the chance to incorporate movement, dynamism, and interactivity. But, who knows what lies ahead for the museums of the future. With the constant advancements of AR, hardware, and software processing capacity some say there will come a day when real-time renderings will be perceived as part of the real world. What is your wild guess? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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