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Augmented reality In Museums: 6 Success Stories

Museums play an important role in society. They bear the significant task of collecting, preserving, researching and presenting objects and materials of historical importance. This responsibility means that museums traditionally take happenings of the past and display them in a contemporary setting with the purpose of bringing knowledge and enjoyment to the public.

Even though many museums still tend to have a conservative style of presenting their exhibitions, a great number of these institutions understand that ´modern times call for modern measures` and are, therefore, constantly making an effort to explore different ways to better connect with their public. And right now that means incorporating augmented reality experiences.

Since augmented reality is on the rise and allows users to see an extra layer of digital content on top of a real-world scenario, forward-thinking museums are embracing this capability to give visitors a richer view and understanding of the origins, history, and details of their cherished pieces on display. Continue reading to learn more about how history is being brought to life through engaging AR experiences provided by museums 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 to 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. A great 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 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 itself 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 to have 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 technology: SLAM (Simultaneous Localization and Mapping)

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 models representations, while others displayed informative video content and relevant geographic data.

Wikitude 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 the Celtic history. By using AR, an animated avatar guides visitors through the museum and tells stories related to the displayed objects in first person tense. This eye-to-eye story-telling makes the experience very personal, interactive and relatable.

Wikitude 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 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 technology: Image Recognition; 3D Augmentations

All of the AR museum showcases detailed above are just the tip of the iceberg. With current AR technology museums have the ability to provide dynamic tours guided by virtual humans (or even creatures) and enrich them 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.

About Andreas Hauser

Andreas studied applied computer science in Salzburg, Austria. After several instructive years at Sony DADC he joined Mobilizy/Wikitude in the very first days. He is now Head of the Android Development. He loves snowboarding and being challenged as a handball goal-keeper.

View all posts by Andreas Hauser

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