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Augmented Reality for Museums: How to Promote Culture to the Masses

Aleksandre B

AR (Augmented Reality) is a technology that modifies the real-time video broadcast. A special program adds visual objects to the picture captured by the camera to create a mixing effect of the real and virtual worlds.

At first glance, museums do not need such technology: why add something to the exhibits? After all, the purpose of the visitor's visit is to see the relics in the exact condition they were preserved. This review is an attempt to prove that it makes sense to the museums to go with the times and pay attention to the promising technology.

Why do museums need AR?

It is unlikely that museums can seriously suffer the loss of interest by new generations who are used to living in a digital reality - the traditional approach to the organization of exhibitions, of course, has not exhausted itself.

But numerous technologies that transform reality are developing so rapidly nowadays that it would be imprudent to miss the opportunity to make visitors' impressions deeper, brighter and more colorful (without changing anything in the physical world), especially for museums where visual perception is the main thing.

Augmented reality allows you to do just that: the work on creating the AR-systems almost does not affect the exhibition centers and the exhibits itself. The lion's share of pre-launch preparations falls on the shoulders of programmers and designers.

Benefits of using AR

As mentioned above, visitors will get a deeper impression:

  • Elements of augmented reality will make acquaintance with the exposition easier, more clearly present the studied subjects;
  • Visitors will be able to get more information in an unobtrusive form, feel themselves as researchers, revealing secrets hidden in the exhibits from the ordinary eye;
  • The introduction of game elements (for example, a quest, quiz, charade or puzzle) to a trip through the museum will increase the involvement in the sphere the exhibition is dedicated to.

Young visitors who experience affection for mobile devices and are constantly online will feel at ease. What is happening on the screen is their life, which means that the museum will easily and naturally be in its very center.

The use of AR can both enrich and completely replace the work of the guides: a well-designed application of augmented reality will allow you to build excursions in an interactive mode with maximum involvement of visitors, with different programs and routes, in different languages, with different complexity levels.

Art objects created in the process of introducing AR-elements can have independent artistic value and increase the attractiveness of the museum, as well as create a reputation as an innovative, modern and even avant-garde cultural institution.

AR-application on the mobile device can make maximum use of its social and e-commerce-functions:

  • It is convenient for the visitor to share the images and personal impressions received during the visit with friends - promotion and advertising will be more natural;
  • Contact with the application user can be continued after the visit. Museums can promote new exhibitions, offer updated programs, invite again;
  • Sale of printed materials, souvenirs, tickets to other programs will harmoniously integrate into the application interface.

Turn-key AR solutions

In this section of the review will cover several companies that offer ready-made solutions for augmented reality for museums.


A professional team, which is engaged in the implementation of AR technology for its clients around the world. Its products - Broadcast AR, BAR Interactive, Hero Mirror, Live Avatar, and Mobile AR - are successfully used in commercial projects and museums. INDE solutions can be seen in museums in the USA, Sweden, China, and the UK.


Another company whose specialization is augmented reality for the museums. Guidigo is known for its products (AR Composer, AR Navigator) and integrated solutions for customers, including museums from Italy, USA, Singapore, and the UK.

Project ARM

The company, which offers museums, its patented design - a platform for creating AR-applications. Functions of Project ARM: virtual museum map, AR-elements for exhibits scanned by visitors using mobile device cameras, connection with social networks, creating an online museum store allowing to purchase directly from the application, games using AR.

Universal museum AR Applications


This application is an interactive guide to many museums in Russia. The visitor must point the camera at the exhibit, and if it is in the program database and recognized, the application will display additional information about the subject of art: unknown facts, author biography, appearance before restoration.


A more multifunctional guide to museums of the world is implemented in this service. In addition to receiving more information about the exhibits, with the help of KeyARt, the user can learn about the opening hours of a particular museum, buy tickets, create his own selection of favorite exhibits and share impressions with friends.

Civilizations AR

BBC, in collaboration with thirty museums around the world, has embodied the dream of any homebody with the help of augmented reality technology: so that he does not need to go anywhere, the museum exhibits are right in front of our eyes. Artifacts, cultural and historical values of different eras and countries can be viewed from all sides and even - using the "x-ray" function - to find out what is inside.

AR and visitors: research results

Studies that were conducted to examine the impact of AR and VR technologies on the on the visitors’ experiences and impressions show that reality changing technologies are attractive for a large part of the audience. Along with the expansion of methods to influence visitors, their interest, involvement, time spent among the exhibits, and accessibility are growing.

Augmented Reality is calling for the future.

Some researchers say that AR technology first became known in the early twentieth century. Despite this, it seems that augmented reality systems are still only at the beginning of the journey. The full potential of abilities to create bright, exciting images on top of the familiar world, has not yet been revealed.

Computing power continues to increase, characteristics of cameras and screens improve, data transmission speed grows, as well as the quality of the software. It seems that pretty soon, when technology will work in full force, the visit to the museum will be an adventure, which, along with the simple contemplation, will leave a deep impression of personal involvement and the sense of touch to the relics and masterpieces, historical and cultural values.

Image courtesy: Museum Solutions

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