Immersive Art: How Museums Use Technology to Enrich Your Experience

art museum

Museums are often quiet spaces dedicated to people who silently observe the exhibits and installations. They look at an art piece, ponder about it for a while, then move on to the next one.

Today, however, more and more museums are deciding to offer a more immersive way for you to enjoy art. They have started using technology to change the way you experience art, going beyond traditional paintings and sculptures and quiet exhibits.

Many museum managers and curators have started offering digital experiences, even before the coronavirus closures. They offer virtual tours and launch fun, unique campaigns on social media.

Apart from establishing an online presence, museums incorporate technology within the physical gallery space, creating a more interactive and engaging experience for visitors of all ages.

Immersive Exhibitions

Immersive exhibitions use light and sound to create the illusion of a time and place that represent the subject matter you’re viewing. The three-dimensionally reconstructed world provides a much richer context compared to simply reading about an artwork, helping you gain a deeper appreciation for the piece.

One of the most popular immersive exhibitions today is Van Gogh Alive, a multi-sensory exhibit that has traveled to over 50 cities across the world. Van Gogh’s popular paintings are projected onto the physical gallery space, accommodated with music. Every nook and cranny offers an engaging and educational experience for the visitors, transporting them to another time and place.

Augmented Reality in Museums

The augmented reality (AR) technology can greatly improve a museum’s visitor experience. It elevates the storytelling, helping visitors immerse themselves in the history and relevance of an art piece. AR adds another dimension to displays, bringing objects and scenes to life.

In 2015, the Smithsonian Institution introduced a new app called Skin and Bones. It elevates one of the oldest and most loved exhibits in the museum, the Bone Hall. When you aim your camera on a skeleton, the app superimposes images to reconstruct the creature, letting you see how the animal looks and moves in real life.

Skin and Bones uses videos, activities, and 3D technology to tell colorful stories about the displays in the Bone Hall. The app is free for iOS users.

Interactive Art and Spaces

interactive museum concept

Interactive museum displays are targeted toward young learners, helping them foster curiosity through self-guided, creative interactions with the exhibits. These interactive creative spaces encourage participation from the audience, which makes them active learners instead of passive observers of art.

One example of an interactive museum display is the ArtLens Interactive Studio in the Cleveland Museum of Art. It has a variety of screen-based activities operated through physical movements. Some of the activities include virtual pottery, virtual painting, virtual collaging using items found in the gallery collections, matching games, and memory games, among many others.

These interactive museum exhibits do more than just offer an immersive way to experience art. They also encourage a more social and collaborative way of learning about the artworks, which is especially beneficial for children. This is a critical advantage because one of the concerns of incorporating technology in museums is that it isolates the viewers from each other.

With the success of these technology-powered displays, expect that more managers and curators will soon embrace digital experiences in their museums. Technology creates opportunities for people to develop deeper connections with art, which is essentially the mission of museums.


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