The only parts of many a museum that work well are their collections, ticket purchase and paper maps. Few museums or their exhibits are either greatly enlightening or much fun. Even diligent museums fail to provide more than a perfunctory explanation of their most important exhibits. And then there are tech vendors pushing expensive and difficult to adopt virtual reality or augmented reality that are limited for content or extensive engagement. No wonder museums rank lower on tourist appeal. Ironically, many a museum now probably belongs in a museum!
Tried getting your kids excited about going to a museum? They are looking for entertainment and if you are lucky, you might find it the one or two displays in a museum … if that museum has lots of money. Or perhaps you were looking for a deep dive and to understand an exhibit in detail. Then you have to either pay for a tour or rent a ratty device. How many people touched that device before you … that day? How many thousands of ears has the headset been on before you? Want to do the research yourself? The museum won’t help you with that. They just like to provide a “one size fits all” boilerplate explanation and God help you if you want more. Museums are super serious and will never tell you anything fun or pop culture about their exhibits. A much younger tour guide might.
Ever been to a new fangled virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) exhibit at a museum? Now did that let you actually play with or learn about more than one or two exhibits? Should you leave after seeing the few that were covered? Technology vendors show flashy ideas that have a short appeal first to the folks at the museum and then to the visitor. However they are both expensive and difficult to implement. Content development is made difficult by the technology itself as well as by weird exacting standards set by the museums staff, and by the tedium of propagating to all the items in the museums collection. The idea of VR in a physical museum when attempting to enhance experience of the exhibit is headed in the right direction but fails for the above reasons. Lets just wait for full VR museums that are free on the internet … or maybe some such will show up a bit later in this article!
Museums are missing the bus on multiple fronts! Core education objectives are…