Augmented reality (AR) content can add value to any museum or art gallery, but to reap its benefits, the interactive digital feature has to be used purposefully.
AR offers several interactive solutions that provide different ways of involving people and creating rewarding engagement opportunities. Below are seven augmented reality ideas that we’ve seen across the globe or delivered ourselves. You decide what’s the right fit for your museum.
1. Bring world-famous artworks to your museum
Sometimes our ambitions are limited by our resources, sometimes not understanding how to use resources stalls our imagination. You may think that getting world-famous artworks in your gallery would be limited by the former. Still, digital innovations such as augmented reality will allow you to do just that on a super tight budget.
We delivered a project for the Latvian National Museum of Art, which had the underlying theme of looking into an art collector’s dream. Putting together a list of the most desired artworks by a famous Latvian art collector, we brought each of the paintings to the gallery in a digital format.
The exhibition, which graced multiple halls of the museum, looked like a bunch of framed QR codes. But by scanning each, the visitors could explore famous artworks in detail via their mobile devices. The exhibition drove a significant spike in the app downloads and artwork scans for the museum.
Another option could be to collaborate with artists to create an exclusive augmented reality exhibition to complement your current offer. There are lots of artists who create digital art and apps that you can use to bring their artwork to your museum. You can check out SAN.app, the author places his work all over the world through his GSP-based app. There are lots of talented digital artists who could do various AR exhibits at your location. Below is an example from Marjan Moghaddam.
2. Use additional virtual space to tell stories while allowing room for individual interpretation
When a visitor arrives at an art exhibition, most often they find the title of the artwork and an author’s name next to it. Then they are left to create a meaning by combining this information with the exhibit. While a museum guide could convey extra information, often individuals who are not part of a group choose to explore on their own.
Augmented reality offers an opportunity for visitors to do so in detail at their own time and pace. People can opt to find out more information through an AR application for the exhibitions or pieces that they are most interested in. They can also choose not to use it and stick to their interpretation.
3. Augmented reality can help museum guides improve their offer
For me, it isn’t about technology replacing humans, but rather enriching what they can show and how they engage.
I firmly believe that there will always be people who enjoy guided visits. For some, it is an invaluable experience to be able to engage with another person and ask questions. However, when trying to capture the attention of various generations, it is good to consider involving some tech to mix up a guided tour. Using augmented reality solutions or showcasing where visitors can use tech solutions can help boost the experience a guide offers.
4. Let AR play to the strengths of your niche
Bringing AR to a niche market is an excellent idea across various sectors, starting from print industries to the art world. Museums most often operate in niches, and people who choose to visit a specific museum are likely to be genuinely interested in the given topic. These are the people who will truly appreciate extra layers of information.
Below is an example from the Riga Motor Museum, where augmented reality was used to educate visitors about how a particular old-school car works. While it wouldn’t be the kind of thing to place in a generic location, the motor museum has visitors who appreciate its exhibits and have shown great interest in exploring the extra detail of the given vehicle.
5. Create an AR journey or portal to your museum
I enjoy the example from the Sunshine Aquarium in Tokyo. To break through the vast offerings of Japan’s capital and get tourists to visit the aquarium, the business created an augmented reality experience, which guided tourists through the busy streets to its premises.
This GPS-based AR app was actually using penguins as the digital guides, which may seem cheesy to some, but it is an aquarium we are talking about! Of course, GPS-based AR apps can come costly, and there is promotion work required to make people aware of the experience, especially in such a busy city as Tokyo.
Great alternatives are targeted augmented reality museum invites, entry cards, and more, which can add value to static printed materials and give people an authentic taste of what they could experience upon visiting you.
You could also create an augmented reality portal to your museum or exhibition and place it in a super touristy spot. With the right promotion, you could inform people of the portal. This would create a cool interactive experience, and inside, you could provide a snapshot of what they could uncover upon visiting. You could then offer a menu where people could get directions and buy tickets. An excellent example of a portal from ARLOOPA below.
6. Use magic mirrors to drive interaction
Magic mirrors are a great platform for interaction, and as people do not need their own devices to retrieve the content, it is easier to get the public involved. With magic mirrors, you can bring your museum experiences outside the museum or create interaction opportunities at your premises. For this, the most popular example I could think of for inspiration must be augmented reality dinosaurs: Jurassic Park BroadcastAR experience at Universal Studios, developed by INDE.
The idea behind any magic mirror is the opportunity for individuals to interact with augmented reality content and place themselves in various scenarios. If it’s such a success as the Jurassic Park example, your video will get millions of views on YouTube.
However, your exhibits may have nothing to do with box office hits. In this scenario, you can concentrate on creating magic mirror experiences that would boost audience engagement and give them a reason to share stuff on social. You could implement AR photobooths, which would place people in certain historical or futuristic scenarios, in paintings or alongside some fictional characters or celebrities.
7. Augmented reality merchandise that keeps memories alive
Another idea where augmented reality could suite any museum is merchandise. As people leave a museum, they may buy a replica or poster of famous artwork, you could integrate augmented reality experience in these pieces. You could offer information about the artworks through augmented reality or a flashback to the museum showcasing a short video of the key pieces. That would truly be merchandise with added value.
I truly hope my list and examples gave you some much-needed inspiration. Please leave a comment below if you have any questions or wanna add to my list. You can also connect with me on LinkedIn to discuss your own augmented reality ideas.
Here you’ll find our interactive AR case studies, including some museum and art examples. And here’s more about our augmented reality solutions for museums and art exhibitions.