Most of us will remember childhood trips to various museums located around the country, looking in awe at the colossal assemblies of whale skeletons or multitudes of preserved wildlife.
Museums, by definition, are institutions which preserve objects of historical, scientific, artistic or cultural interest. It would appear museums have outgrown this definition, as current facilities provide virtual reality experiences, historical film showings even (on occasion) live historical reenactments.
Whether focusing on natural history or even more recent events, these museums attempt to both recreate and preserve the past. Nowadays, museums offer a number of more in-depth experiences that attempt to transport visitors to different time periods through elaborate use of technology.
Museums are likely to always exist in some form, but an evolution is likely thanks to the rise of technology. In the near future, augmented and virtual reality could be used to enhance the traditional exhibits, and provide an experience unattainable anywhere else.
Wearing augmented reality glasses could layer important information over exhibits, and transport visitors to the time period. On the other hand, virtual reality could change the way museums are created altogether. Instead of expansive buildings that are expensive to maintain, people may enter a room and put on headsets to explore a virtual world.
Europeana, a company specialising in digitising museum pieces for preservation, wants to use virtual reality to recreate museums such as the Louvre, Rijksmuseum and Guggenheim. By doing so, the company hopes people from around the world will be able to visit without ever setting foot outside the home.
While it may be fair to argue a virtual experience can never capture the essence of a real museum, it’s beyond the means of many people to pay for and travel to another country. With VR, everyone can experience the landmarks of the world.