Augmented Reality Museums – Uses Cases, Benefits & Examples

Augmented reality has tons of applications in the current world and is a wonderful way to shape and enhance the visual experiences of things we encounter in our daily life. It is still a relatively new concept in technology. And museums are a great way to showcase what AR offers in many immersive and interactive means. It’s time for AR to give museums an entirely new way to attract audiences. Several places around the world use augmented reality museums to exhibit 3D visualizations that are life-like. We’ll explore them in depth here. 

To dive deeper into it, let us first understand what it is and how it works. 

AR or augmented reality involves using computer-generated graphics to add more elements to an existing image.

Those elements could be as simple as color enhancers all the way up to projections of how a space could look. These projections help design and understand architecture, product display, and many other things.

How and why do museums use augmented reality?


Museums are seen as information-filled by many but fun-filled by only a few. AR could change this completely. Augmented reality increases the chances of a particular art piece being viewed by the public and enhances the visual experience. It works well in conjunction with newer audiences who appreciate an immersive and ‘instagrammable’ visual experience. There are several ways museums utilize AR to give audiences a memorable event. Here are some of them.

1. Adding more information to the art

Augmented reality museums use this technology to add more information and value to existing work. It could be anything from including a note from or about the artist or containing interpretations or descriptions. More information forms better narration and allows the artists to tell the story behind the artwork more straightforwardly. Sometimes there could be certain complicated exhibits that are difficult to understand. Adding additional information will also help retain viewers’ attention in these cases. The more well-rounded an experience is, the more enjoyable it becomes. So, using AR to tell visitors about the background of what they’re seeing is a great way to market the museum. 

2. Giving a 3D view

Watching things in 3D is always a better experience because of how real it feels. Augmented reality museums use the same tactic to make sculptures, paintings, and other exhibits more engaging and catchy. Adding a 3D angle gives a new element to the displayed art and revamps its image as something new and exciting. This trick is the most effective for attracting huge audiences and keeping them returning. While the 3D view may not be a new thing to hear, that doesn’t stop it from being interesting. 

Museums know this and use AR to make their exhibits stand out and take their visitors’ minds on an exciting journey. 3D sculptures that look different from different viewing points and magnificent graphics that feel oddly real despite being fictional are all major hits with people. AR helps make this happen and will only make it better in the future. 

3. Using interactive exhibits

Sometimes specific sculptures or models need the viewer’s input in some form to start the interaction. This idea seems simple, but it’s a great way to use AR to our advantage. In museums, interactive pieces incorporating AR have a much higher chance of grabbing the audience’s attention than the other pieces. 3D animations that interact with people, QR codes that lead to an interesting detail, or any other AR addition can take a simple installation to a sophisticated and immersive work of art. They can also transform the experience from looking at the installation to interacting with it and having a great time.

All these additions involve the audience directly and make the experience an active one from the old and passive methods. 

4. Storytelling and forming an experience

Learning about a subject may involve facts, but the learning methods can be very subjective. Forming a story around a specific topic is a great and effective way to attract huge audiences to augmented reality museums. The storytelling will vary from one digital artist to another because that’s the creative side of the equation. The factual side isn’t neglected but enhanced due to the addition of creative elements. There are several ways AR museums use this point to their advantage. 

Having an application that people can download on their phones or tablets is a typical road that AR museums take. This application could contain extra information, alternative interpretations of the art, and also access to other interactive stuff. Students can also blend their fun and learning time, gaining an all-around experience on their day at the museum. All digital artists emphasize their storytelling to capture audiences for the longest time possible. Creating an experience also increases the chances of the customers returning another time. 

Will augmented reality museums be a big craze in the future?


AR museums are likely to gain even more relevance in the future. Considering that AR is still a new technology and experimentation and development are a huge part, we can expect to see even better art in museums that use AR. Just like every new thing, AR museums have their own audience, and the good news is that the experience they offer includes the interest of all age groups. While speculating, we must consider all factors like awareness of AR, technological developments, and many other things. So, the faster AR adoption happens on a larger scale, the more affordable and mainstream these museums will become. New and advanced techniques in AR are paving the way for more sophisticated and interactive art installations. 

Top 5 AR museums around the world

While many great museums explore and display all AR can offer, some do it better than the rest. Here’s a list of some from all corners of the world that provide an excellent augmented reality museum experience.

1. National Museum of Singapore

The National Museum of Singapore has many interesting exhibits. One of the rarer things it offers is a wholly immersive and fantastic exhibit that comprises 69 images from William Farquhar’s collection of Natural History drawings. They have made the installation in a story format where each viewer can have a fully interactive experience with the 3D animations that bring projections to life. These images create a new world of William Farquhar’s drawings for the audience to get soaked up in. Not just the visual aspect, they’ve also worked on the informational aspects. Quick facts about the species covered in the images give the visitors a great learning opportunity. Kids will be willing to learn things actively instead of trying to remember a factoid someone told them about. They also have an AR museum app that visitors can download to interact with the paintings in the installation.  

Revisiting old art can help us gain a new perspective and invite fresh takes on what the art means and the symbolism it carries over the years. So, this is a clear win-win strategy for museums. The Art Gallery of Ontario takes a similar approach in looking at some previous works of artists using inputs from a professional digital artist like Alex Mayhew. With ReBlink, it reimagines some of the existing pieces in the collection and presents them from a newer viewpoint. Visitors use their phones or tablets to access the life-like images of objects depicted in the painting Drawing Lots. 

One thing that Mayhew strives to achieve with his art is to demonstrate the impact of technology on our lives. So, some paintings in this collection carry some new elements that were previously non-existent. Nevertheless, the art gallery includes all AR-related additions that can enhance the appearance and experience of those paintings.

3. Perez Art Museum, Miami

Creating new art pieces is excellent, but adding new and interesting elements to existing ones can be equally interesting, if not more. The Perez Art Museum of Miami features a fully digital AR installation that is slightly eerie and uncanny. AR creates a deep realism in this collection named ‘Invasive Species.’ This art installation includes crawling insects, giant jellyfish, and lush gardens. AR here is being used primarily to expand the idea of invasive species with heavily realistic images demonstrating what climate change could bring forth. It invites discussions about its effects, and the art is open to individual interpretation. 

The use of AR to discuss topics of great seriousness, like climate change, is interesting and groundbreaking. From here on, it’s challenging to anticipate where the creativity of artists can meet with the tools provided by AR to create art that’s out of the world. This kind of art promotes an AR museum and opens up discussions on many other topics.

4. Kennedy Space Center

The ‘Heroes and Legends’ exhibit of the Kennedy Space Center is new and far away from the concept of nature and landscape display using AR. This installation uses AR for educational purposes. Defining moments and persons in history need not be memorized through pages of a dull book anymore. AR is here to transform how we see and remember our heroes. This piece uses holograms of astronauts who talk about their achievements and career. Even when virtual, these talks seem one-to-one and engaging. 

The usage of AR in changing the way we teach is unprecedented. Museums have always been educational, but they’re more attractive now than ever. These immersive holograms are more effective at teaching curious minds due to the added visual advantage. Forming a story around what we have to learn always helps us learn faster, and AR helps achieve precisely that. 

5. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Many people remember their museum trips as looking at different kinds of bones. It’s fascinating initially, but we barely remember anything towards the end of the visit. Also, looking at bones that have been in the same place for years is slightly uninteresting. It is where AR can step into the equation. New ways to view the old thing are AR’s most significant selling point. So, AR museums are using this point to attract wider audiences. 

The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History revamps its Bone Hall to give visitors something more interactive. Their AR museum app, called Skin and Bone, offers visitors a chance to a virtual reconstruction of what the animal or bird species would’ve looked like with skin and muscle on the bones. The motion of the joints and full-blown animations of the species are also available. This interactive media makes learning about extinct creatures so easy and much more enjoyable. 

How can PlugXR help you build the best AR Museum experience?

PlugXR is a no-code platform for creating immersive applications. Experiences can be created by anyone in minutes. So far, it has helped 40000+ creators and businesses across the globe integrate augmented reality to enhance user experience and boost sales, engagement, and reach. You can also make your museum stand out with AR experience.

You can use PlugXR to recreate your brick-and-mortar museum into an interactive AR museum using the following features:

  • User-friendly interface 
  • Hasslefree experience building
  • Adding an interactive element to the museum and its exhibits using all major trackings:
  1. Image Tracking 
  2. Surface Tracking 
  3. Location Based Tracking 
  4. Area Tracking  

Final words

AR has a great scope for expansion in the future, considering the advancements in technology made each passing day. Creative and immersive visualizations of text, audio, or video are crucial to the functioning of so many industries and businesses. Product images on a shopping app, architectural plans for tall buildings, and other day-to-day experiences are possible due to augmented reality. AR technology in museums is a new thing to see for many consumers.

Museums using AR not only introduces the visitors to all the fantastic things AR can do but also draws attention to the artists responsible for creating the exhibits. Museums always fill up with work that takes years of expertise to complete and thus hold tremendous knowledge. Using AR only enhances what’s already present and doesn’t take away from an artist’s work. Instead, it increases the amount of time one spends looking at an art piece by a significant amount. So, augmented reality could be the best step forward to make museums interactive and exciting for all age groups. 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *