What’s driving these changes?
Ironically, to understand the driving forces behind these cultural advancements, you don’t have to look much further than your own home. Over 6 billion worldwide people currently owning smartphones, the average household now owns 11 connected devices, and a shocking 3.2 billion images are shared daily. With interaction and innovation now second nature to modern-day audiences of all ages (face-morphing selfie, anyone?), it’s no wonder that a host of new museum installations are leveraging augmented reality, 360-degree video and other cutting-edge technologies to offer new ways to experience exhibits.
What’s more, in the age of Snapchat and Instagram, the concept of art and museums (and the very way in which we interact with both) is constantly transforming to become more interactive and social. New cultural hotspots like the Museum of Pizza, Candytopia and Museum of Illusions are now every bit as much adventures as art galleries. At places like the Museum of Pizza, you not only see the exhibition but get to be a part of it (and likely it will be a highlight on your Instagram feed), and that ushers in new expectations for the modern museumgoer.
So how are museums going to meet those expectations?
One answer might be places like Atlanta’s Illuminarium installation, which bills itself as being “VR without the glasses.” It currently invites visitors to immerse themselves in an African safari as they’re surrounded by $30 million worth of video projection, sound, scent and floor vibration technology.
Another is the collaboration between the Smithsonian and Verizon 5G Labs. This partnership recently leveraged over 2.8 million 2D and 3D assets from the Smithsonian Open Access collections to create a set of AR-powered online museum exhibits that are browsable via the web. These augmented reality exhibitions (featuring notable objects like Charlie Parker’s alto sax, the Apollo 11 moon mission spacecraft’s hatch door, etc.) come loaded with narrated backgrounds accessible whenever QR codes are scanned on your phone.
Unsurprisingly, the emerging field of “remote tourism” is already being pioneered in Europe. The field relies on the impact of 5G to power visits to foreign cities and dip into museums and galleries from thousands of miles away (and have the ability to access robotic helpers on-site).