Virtual Museums

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Virtual Museums

Five best in class examples of how museums are including augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have been provided below. Examples of museums that have used the AR/VR technology to create an immersive and inspiring experience for other users include the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum, the National History Museum of Utah, the Tate Modern art museum, the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, and the National Museum of Singapore. To identify the best in class examples, we selected AR/VR projects that have won an award (in particular the MUSE award by the American Alliance of Museums) or identified in more than one credible source (here and here) as a leading example in the museum industry. A brief description of the identified examples follow.

1. The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum

The Situation Room Experience by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum puts participants into a high-stakes international crisis. The crisis — which differs each time — is based on historical facts and documents from the National Archives and Records Administration. In the AR-enabled environment, participants, which can range from 25-37, assume the roles of "White House Crisis Management Team, members of the intelligence community and of the media" and interact and solve multiple challenges in real-time. The combination of AR technology with historic events and role-playing earned the project a silver award at the 2017 MUSE Award by the American Alliance of Museums under the games and virtual/augmented reality category.

2. National History Museum of Utah

The Utah Climate Challenge by the National History Museum of Utah won silver at the 2018 MUSE Awards by the American Alliance of Museums under the games and virtual/augmented reality category. The Utah Climate Challenge is a virtual reality game that "illustrates cause and effect" of human activity on our environment. Players have to grapple with choices such as if a vertical farm will generate enough food or how coal or gas energy will affect the air quality. As players make choices, the consequences — good or bad — pile up. As such, players must act as advocates that support better ways of meeting the virtual city's needs. The content in the game is based on data from different world data sets, which adds authenticity to the gameplay. While the game has different themes, the climate change theme has been the most popular. Overall, the virtual game has enabled the museum to encourage collaborative and conscious decision-making, in lieu of the state's rapidly growing population, finite resources, and climate change.

3. Tate Modern

Tate Modern, an art museum, won the bronze award at the 2018 MUSE Awards by the American Alliance of Museums under the games and virtual/augmented reality category for its Modigliani VR: The Ochre Atelier project. The Modigliani VR: The Ochre Atelier project brings to life Modigliani's final Parisian studio. Tate Modern, with the help of Preloaded, used documentary materials, first-hand accounts, historical and technical research, and Modigliani's work to reimagine the last place the artist worked. The environment consists of more than 60 objects, artworks, and materials, as well as words from those who knew the artist.

4. Smithsonian Museum of Natural History

Through the use of Augmented reality, the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History was able to bring to life the Bone Hall anatomy exhibit. The exhibits have largely remained the same for the past 50 years. With the “Skins & Bones” app, guests can overlay skin and movements unto the bones. In one example, a sea cow grows flesh, and in another example, users can see how an anhinga catches fish. While using the app in front of the bones exhibit maximizes the experience, users can still try the app at home. Through the app, the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History was able to increase dwell time on the exhibit to 14 minutes from 1.34 minutes, an increase of 1000%.

5. National Museum of Singapore, Singapore

With an app that is similar in nature to Pokemon Go, the National Museum of Singapore was able to bring to life the "from The William Farquhar Collection of Natural History Drawings consisting of flora and fauna." Using the app and the camera function on their mobile device, guests hunt for plants and animals within the drawing. Every plant and/or animal captured by the guests are then stored in a photo collection the guests can access later. When guests open the captured animals/plants image, they learn more information such as the diet and habitat of each plant/animal.
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Virtual Museums 2

Five best in class examples of how museums are including augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have been provided below. Examples of museums that have used the AR/VR technology to create an immersive and inspiring experience for other users include the Isabella Stewart-Gardner Museum, Virtual architecture museum, the Science Museum, Detroit Institute of the Arts, and the Sydvestjyske museer.

To identify the best in class examples, we selected AR/VR projects that have either won an award (in particular the MUSE award by the American Alliance of Museums), were identified in more than one reputable source or the AR/ VR display portrays an important historical event.

Our research team was careful to not repeat the five museums listed in the first request. (Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum, the National History Museum of Utah, the Tate Modern art museum, the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, and the National Museum of Singapore.) A brief description of the identified examples are found below.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum- Hacking the Heist

Located in the Fenway-Kenmore area of Boston, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum was the scene of the costliest art thefts in United States history. In 1990, thirteen masterpieces to include the Rembrandt, Degas and Manet were stolen in under an hour. The pieces were worth an estimated $500 million and unfortunately were not recovered. Today, augmented reality has made it possible for guest to view the original paintings. Guests can point their smart phone devices at the original frames that still hang today, and view the original painting through the Hacking the Heist augmented reality app allows visitors to view the stolen works on the walls where they once hang, by pointing their mobile devices at the original frames.

Virtual architecture museum- Russian ministry of culture

This display placed honorable mention in the 2018 Muse Awards for the augmented and virtual reality category. The virtual museum of architecture is a "project of the A.V. Shchusev State Museum of Architecture initiated and supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation" and uses 3D excursions to present the history and creation of famous Russian architecture, allowing the audience to "visualize the evolution of national architecture."

Science museum- Handley Page

This display placed bronze in the 2017 Muse Awards for the augmented and virtual reality category. Located in London, the Handley Page is the Science Museum's first interactive virtual reality experience. The display was designed by Zaha Hadid Architects and is the largest display located in the Winton Gallery, which portrays how mathematics has shaped our society. The Handley Page aircraft provides "inspiration for the gallery's turbulence-inspired wind tunnel design."

Detroit institute of the arts- lumin

This display placed gold in the 2017 Muse Awards for the augmented and virtual reality category. The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) is premiering a "mobile tour with Lumin that uses Google’s Tango technology to provide visitors with new, in-depth ways to engage with the DIA’s renowned collection." The Detroit Institute of the Arts is the first art museum globally that has integrated augmented reality, and 3-D mapping into a public mobile tour. Lumin is financially supported by the J. Addison Bartush, Marion M. Bartush Family Foundation, and James L. Knight Foundation.

sydvestjyske museer- augmenting the historic city: trade and merchants life in ribe

This display placed gold in the 2016 Muse Awards for the augmented and virtual reality category. Located in Denmark, "augmenting the Historic City: Trade and Merchants Life in Ribe" features the space "inside an old merchant's house with surrounding urban space." Augmented reality brings the 1582 town back to life allowing guest to view the ox trade assembly points and the vibrant markets through "immersive video, animations and interactive 3D models which also communicate building structures and room functions."
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