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Virtual reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) have emerged as the two of the most prominent technologies that are revolutionising museum experiences by increasing interactivity and immersive experiences. Traditional museums are under pressure to transform themselves into interactive museums to increase visitor footfall and engagement.

It is undoubtedly true that museums have a vast treasure of valuable and interesting exhibits from across the world. They are there to inform and educate everyone, particularly the younger generation. They shine a light on the glorious past and help immensely to inspire future actions. They are also a reminder not to repeat the unfortunate events of the past.

Augmented Reality comes really handy to unlock visitor engagement. Here are a few ways that we can use AR. In the absence of an experienced guide or a guided tour, a visitor just ambles through the museum and absorbs experiences based on their individual level of interest.

The engagement is virtually zero, and the time spent in the museum does not deliver the intended benefits of museums. AR is really popular because it can be easily accessed, usually through a visitor’s smartphone or tablet. AR can also be deployed using wearables such as AR goggles. AR technology overlays information and data on anything they see using devices or wearables more exciting and purposeful.

They can also engage the visitor with games, puzzles and rewards using the exhibits in the museum. AR museum applications serve as virtual guides by tracking the user’s location and presenting alerts to view exhibits nearby and provide all kinds of information to engage them. QR codes positioned near the exhibits, when scanned, will generate content that explains the history and important information and details about the exhibit.

The app also generates 3D models of the exhibit, enabling the visitor to explore and learn in greater detail about the exhibit. The whole experience can be gamified by turning the visit into a treasure hunt and attaching rewards. The learning experience coming out of the gamification experience increases retention and future application of the learned information. This is invaluable for young children and students.

Virtual Reality is throwing open the doors for visitors, particularly those physically or locationally disadvantaged, to access and enjoy museums in a way that matches the excitement and satisfaction of a physical visit. Many of the world’s leading museums are engaging visitors to look through their valued collections through their virtual tours.

While this serves to preview and plan a museum visit, it has also enabled new technology to explore these exhibits in greater detail through the comfort of their living rooms. Many traditional museums have begun incorporating a VR experience centre as part of their exhibits to make the visitor experience more interesting.

Virtual reality tours are also available that present a physical tour through the museum using VR headsets, which incidentally have become more affordable in recent years. This will pave the way for its eventual integration of VR museum experiences into the much-talked-about metaverse.

The growth of museums is not solely in the hands of governments and nonprofit entities. Private museums are mushrooming across the globe and could adopt these technologies in museums from the start itself. Major corporations are also establishing corporate experience centres to capture key moments of their history for their employees and visitors.

Many corporations, like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Apple, Meta etc., have become global icons and have created history in their own way. The technologies and advancements that corporate houses have achieved deserve their place for posterity.

We at Fusion VR are leading and contributing to the movement that is making traditional museums more engaging for all groups of visitors. We have worked on several projects that are a testament to this effort. A tour of the Amma Museum and Knowledge Park in Chennai and the various Ramakrishna Mission Museums across the country showcase our expertise in delivering interactive museum experiences. To learn more about this and our future projects, please check out our website dedicated to museums and corporate experience centre services.