Are Online Exhibitions and Virtual Tours a real deal?
2021 is predicted by many to be the year virtual exhibition, online exhibitions, or online galleries will become mainstream. But what is a virtual tour exhibition exactly? And how can we make virtual tours a success – and not just a loveless gimmick that actually no-one is using. We at ZAUBAR tried to bring some clarity into a confusing topic.
What is a virtual exhibition actually?
Virtual museums and exhibitions have been around for decades. Google embarked on the idea and launched the Google Arts and Culture project which enabled hundreds of museums to offer virtual tours. As technology has improved since then, important quality progress of producing the virtual walks and viewing options followed as well. In earlier crumbled times, did humans go inward for finding a deeper meaning by exploration of culture and art. We, humans, are native discoverers and in our present digital era have the virtually available alternatives naturally been taking off. Technology is bringing various objects to life and with augmented richness, a virtual exhibition is offering an interactive immersive replacement to the classic exhibition walks…
The search term “virtual tour” increased seven times from 1300 to 10.000 in the shift from February to March 2020
Whether it is Amazon Explore or AirBnB experiences, Live Streaming is everywhere. But is it so immersive? While people are stuck at home, museums, sites and tour guides are seeing the great opportunity in the internet and how immersive technologies can enable interactive virtual experiences. Exhibitors are vastly using tools to create alternative and extended events that people virtually can experience from home. For example in the animal areas of the San Diego Zoo, where you can cuddle wild animals live and online – and their animal trainers give you the secret tips on how to treat a tiger.
It is multi-beneficial for museums or sites to offer exhibitions online, as time, geography or locations is no longer an obstacle for interested viewers. For instance can, not available-objects or physically restricted locations be possible for visitors to access and explore. And, showcasing masterpieces or lesser-known items has become more popular since people have been able to absorb the immersive objects and to process materials deeper, through the added information features. As classic exhibitors are restricted to the size of the physical venues, a virtual exhibition opens up the possibility for scalable arrangements as well. Many museums have, thanks to digital tools and innovative arrangement, increased their number of visitors!
What are examples of virtual exhibitions?
A wholly virtual exhibition takes place either on a dedicated virtual platform or online. A visitor can navigate the environment of a loved exhibition hall, with help of a created 3D render of the room. It allows interactive engagement with the items and by that, connects the visitor and exhibitors in a different format. When well presented, the chances of a digital exhibition are allowing the delegates to locate and engage even more easily than they would in the physical environment. Matterport for example creates and provides virtual tours as a service for businesses. But as an example is it quite very static – and it offers almost no contextualisation. It is a nice way to archive a physical place, but repetitive to your audience. It is also an issue to offer tours in VR because almost no-one has a headset – and it is not very hygienic either. But how to tell stories more immersive if VR does not work – and static 2D Video is not engaging enough?
A top notch example of a virtual tour and Scrollytelling is “The liberation”
The Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site, in collaboration with Bayerischer Rundfunk, launched the virtual tour and AR app from ZAUBAR as a mark of the 75th anniversary of the liberation. When downloading the app, is it possible to see parts of the memorial site as it appeared 75 years ago. With “The liberation AR” are historical photographs gradually imposed over the physical site, and by the complemented audio recordings is it a fascinating expansion to what the visitor ordinarily perceives of the site. The environment is projected on the tablet or smartphone screen and multimedia content creates vivid audiovisual pictures of the place.
Another solution for virtual exhibitions, which, unlike VR, is easily accessible to anyone, is AR.
Augmented reality (AR), which superimposes text or image features over the real world, makes it possible for exhibitors to add a digital layer to be experienced in the physical environment. As VR totally replaces the real environment, AR instead adds objects that merge with the site or location. Good AR features have the next level-ability to captivate their audience by the use of their smartphone or tablet, interacting in reconstructions of past or future visualisations. When the immersive content is live-streamed, the same event provides it to be experienced online. The main reasons that museums are (or should be) using AR technology in their projects is that AR brings life to items, is interactive, and makes the exhibitions more fun which also makes it more likely for revisits.
AR live Streaming is another possibility to follow a local passionated local tour guide from home on your couch
An even more immersive live-tour is available thanks to AR live streaming, where you can engage in the virtual environment which gets enhanced in live stream. When you are stuck at home, choose to explore and experience and follow a local tour guide / passionated local right from your couch.
Do you have questions about virtual exhibitions and tours? You are at the right place 😉
– Fabian Mrongowius und Jennie Eliasson