Augmented Reality: Museums Look Ahead to the Future

Augmented Reality is gaining momentum in museums, effectively improving visitors’ experience. It is a sign of art galleries and exhibition spaces becoming “smart” in Italy thanks to the digital transformation. The merit also goes to AR, an immersive technology that makes it possible to:

-Overcome the sometimes static world of the museum sector
-Bring Millenials and those who want to discover an often-unknown world, closer to our country’s artistic and cultural heritage

So how does a visit to a museum change with Augmented Reality? And what benefits does digitization bring users and museology? Let’s find out together.

Augmented Reality in Museums and Art Galleries

During the COVID-19 pandemic, museums and galleries remained closed for a long time. No lines, no revenues, no sharing of the beauty they hold within. Many never reopened. Other arts and cultural institutions, already adopting digitization and innovation, to avoid the worst have experimented with and adopted Augmented Reality.
AR in the museum is gaining currency because it makes it possible to:

  • Experience cultural heritage even remotely
  • Offer users a customized visit, closer to a person’s tastes

Not surprisingly, when all seemed lost during the health emergency, the use of enabling technologies for many was synonymous with cultural revival. Therefore, they continued on that path.

Other entities followed suit, aware of the opportunities and advantages they could benefit from.
Augmented Reality “in the service” of art, in effect, enriches users’ experience by providing engaging, interactive content that leaves a mark, excites, and, often, keeps users coming back to other events.

A More Interactive Museum with Augmented Reality

Imagine you are standing in front of a painting. Next to it is the label with the author’s name, the artwork’s title, the year it was made, and other pieces of information. What changes if, on that label, there is a QrCode or access to an Augmented Reality application? A lot, at least according to many visitors to interactive exhibitions hosted by Italian and international museums.

Once visitors scan the code or log into the app, the device becomes a space where they experience and “live” the canvas in a different way. Objects come to life, and scenes come alive before the visitors’ eyes. Such a multisensory experience offers the opportunity to see and understand, thanks to explanations, all the details we encounter while admiring the original.

Of course, audio guides remain. However, the new generations, increasingly connected and attracted to hi-tech solutions, are choosing innovation in museums. Not surprisingly, apps for visiting exhibitions via smartphones or tablets are increasing. Similarly, it is not uncommon to admire an exhibition wearing smart glasses or Virtual Reality visors.

Technological innovation in Museums: Benefits

Somehow, we are witnessing a “democratization” of art. In effect, interactivity and the use of technologically advanced solutions, become a valuable aid for those who enter a museum but often leave without having fully understood the works they have seen. In addition, museum 4.0 relies on digitized entertainment that also appeals to Generation Z.

Ancient buildings, destroyed by catastrophic events and time, come to life again: visitors can admire faithful 3-D reconstructions. They can hear the narrating voice of the work’s author, as he is intent on painting. They can discover how extinct animals moved or immerse themselves in a space where visitors become the protagonist of the artwork itself.

The world of museums rejuvenates itself and sets itself free from that often conformist, traditionalist substratum to promote a more dynamic reality. A process of cultural renewal that appeals to people and attracts new audiences.

Gamification: How Visitors Become Protagonists

Gamification is among the forms of AR that captivate tourists by enhancing their experience. Challenges, gaming, puzzles, interactions and much more stimulate users to be an active part of the cognitive process. They no longer are  passive recipients of learned information contained inside the artworks and exhibition spaces.

Fun activities that stimulate the learning process and experience. Thus, thanks to interactive games and challenges, visitors from passive spectators turn into active protagonists of the museum experience. They decide their path within the museum and the type of experience they want to have.

Several Italian museums are adopting gamification to attract more visitors. It is a sign of ongoing experimentation and the desire to make artistic and cultural heritage more engaging and accessible to all.

To remain within the gamification context, and precisely to offer visitors a more interactive and engaging experience, at Hannover Messe and Mecspe 2022 HeadApp presented “The Leonardo Experience.” A gaming activity that allowed visitors to immerse themselves in the works of Leonardo DaVinci’s genius and discover the different functions of Eye4Task, the remote AR collaboration platform for field technicians.


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