News, Technology

The Role of Technology in the Cultural World

Mihaela Stoica

Mihaela Stoica, Writer
@uxconnections

Modern technologies in museums are creating new ways to experience the cultural world

Observing and understanding the public’s present-day curiosities has led artists and art exhibitors to transpose or combine their art with impressive technology. The use of Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) is increasingly being embraced by museums, with the aim of informing and entertaining their audiences. And, as information technology has evolved, so have the interests and values of current generations when it comes to the world of art. As a result, computers are making vast and interesting appearances in cultural institutions, playing important roles in facilitating interest and recognition of contemporary and historic pieces of art.

People go to museums to feel inspired, to expand their knowledge about different times and places in history around the globe, or to spend their leisure time. No matter what their interests might be, museums are aiming to enhance their visitors’ experiences. Lately, museums have started to integrate VR, AR and AI to recreate history scenes with visuals or providing interactive online platforms during and even post-visit. Erewhile, one-dimensional and under strict regulations of ‘Do not touch!’, nowadays exhibits have become greatly user-friendly by encouraging interaction with touch screens, audio devices, holograms and many others. 

It may look as if the sphere of art is being debunked by these new trends. But it turns out that art is actually becoming more accessible and captivating for our modern society. In 2017, artist Felice Groding from Perez Art Museum Miami, launched the first fully AR art exhibition, which proved to be a massive success. 

Some artists chose to test the limits of these technologies within their exhibitions, by creating unique immersive experiences. Virtual tours, reproducing century lost paintings, digital paintings with ultra-high resolution or three-dimensional printed sculptures are some of the most prominent concepts used in the museum sector.

The biggest immersive museum exhibition in the world, a combination of AR and VR, was hosted in London by digital producer Fabrice Jouvenot at the Royal Museums Greenwich. To celebrate the anniversary of the Queen’s House, one of the most famous and important pieces of classical English architecture in history, an impressive real-life scale display was organised inside its walls. The artist recreated crucial events that happened in 400 years of the house’s history, through interactive guided tours and 3D-scanned characters portraying ghosts haunting the house. 

Another historically important representation, at the legendary Louvre Museum, ‘Mona Lisa: Behind the Glass’ is an attraction aimed to rejuvenate the experience of visiting the venerable Mona Lisa painting by offering an in-depth look at the story behind it – the techniques and composition used in Leonardo da Vinci’s process. This is the museum’s first attempt at incorporating VR and AR within its exhibitions. The Mona Lisa digital visual experience plays an important role in bettering audience engagement, as a version of this has been made available to download and enjoy at home. 

With the fast-paced evolution of computers, and the increasing number of people using smart devices, the introduction of technology in cultural institutions can only broaden the horizons of artists. Technology challenges museum manners, attracting new audiences and boosting cultural investments. Businesses dealing with such technologies are mushrooming and encouraging artists to experiment in a variety of ways. Even though technology has limitations in this domain, it’s fair to judge that museum experiences are being progressively revolutionised.

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