There’s an entire world of wonder and it’s just asking to be explored in new ways.
Museums and galleries do a fantastic job of providing a snapshot to a different time and place in the world, often coupled with amazing analysis by curators that are passionate about the work they are doing. Museums are a place to learn and explore so it was only natural that they started to make the shift to incorporate immersive technology into their displays.
There has been a steady increase in the use of Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality within the education and arts space, with the British Museum’s Samsung Digital Discovery Centre (SDDC) being widely regarded as the pioneer of museum VR with their display, showcasing the Bronze Age, in 2015. They offered two experiences, one with a Samsung Gear VR headset and then another with a VR dome (like our CaVRn but smaller) that could fit 5 guests at a time.
This sparked a movement in museums and galleries across the globe, following suit to produce their own works of VR. From the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles working with HoloLens back in 2017 to create a VR experience where visitors were able to interact with the Ford GT40, to the National Museum of Finland in Helsinki opening a VR exhibit in 2018 where visitors could explore inside paintings such as The Opening of the Diet by Alexander II.
There is even The Kremer Museum which doesn’t exist as a physical space at all. The Kremer Museum showcases over 70 17th Century Dutch and Flemish old masters. You can only view this collection as a VR experience, there is no where in the world that shows this collection all together physically. The Kremer Museum founder, George Kremer remarked that the best way to share art with as many people as possible is ‘by investing in technology rather than in bricks and mortar’. The architect who designed the Kremer Museum with George followed by stating ‘VR opens up a whole new realm for the architectural practice, where ideas and concepts are no longer bound to the limits of passive visuals but can be a fully immersive experience.”
The momentum for VR in the museum and gallery space continues to gain ground even in 2019. TRANSFER, based in LA, offers support for artists who are experimenting with VR, including help and funding towards residencies, gallery tours and scouting alternative exhibition venues to name a few. All to encourage exploring art through VR.
However not everyone in the museum world is fully behind VR as a new medium. In his interview with the New York Times Bruno David, President of the National Museum of Natural History in Paris said, when asked about VR, “People are coming to a museum to see real objects because real objects are emotional.” However, this doesn’t seem like the positive way to approach VR in the museum space. VR is an educational tool that can be used alongside exhibitions and a way to bring exhibitions to people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to access them.