5 ways mu­se­ums are us­ing tech­nol­ogy for new ex­pe­ri­ences

Kuwait Times - - TECHNOLOGY -

Mu­se­ums are al­ways look­ing for ways to make their ex­hi­bi­tions more ex­cit­ing. Now, new tech­nolo­gies are mak­ing that eas­ier. From 3-D scan­ning and 3-D print­ing, to vir­tual reality and spe­cial apps, these tech­nolo­gies are be­ing ap­plied in a mul­ti­tude of ways. Still other tech­nolo­gies are be­ing tested and de­vel­oped as mu­se­ums seek to ever broaden pub­lic ac­cess.

“Where we used to have one way of vis­it­ing and ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a mu­seum, peo­ple now ex­pect a va­ri­ety of ways,” said Cather­ine Devine, chief dig­i­tal of­fi­cer at the Amer­i­can Mu­seum of Nat­u­ral His­tory in New York City. “It’s about ex­plor­ing tech­nolo­gies.” A look at some of the ways mu­se­ums are in­te­grat­ing and de­vel­op­ing tech­nolo­gies to en­gage their au­di­ences:

Nav­i­gat­ing a big col­lec­tion

You can get lost in the giant Amer­i­can Mu­seum of Nat­u­ral His­tory. Ex­plorer, a new app, uses hun­dreds of Blue­tooth hotspots to nav­i­gate vis­i­tors around its halls to ar­ti­facts that may in­ter­est them the most. “In­stead of say­ing ‘turn at West 14th Street,’ it says ‘turn left at the huge mosquito, go through the green sign,’” said Devine. “From the app’s point of view, you don’t have to say where you are. When­ever you raise your phone, the thing you’re im­me­di­ately in front of is at the top of the app.” Devine said the app can also can cus­tom­ize vis­i­tors’ tours. If a per­son se­lects “Re­ally Big,” for ex­am­ple, the app might take them to the mu­seum’s mam­moth blue whale. Once there, lay­ers of in­for­ma­tion are added, in­clud­ing an­i­ma­tion, videos and fun facts like com­par­ing the whale’s weight to 1.6 mil­lion slices of pizza.

3d print­ing and scan­ning

Mu­se­ums are still ex­plor­ing the many and var­ied ap­pli­ca­tions of 3-D print­ing and 3-D scan­ning for their pro­gram­ming, re­search and gallery ex­pe­ri­ence. Some are al­ready us­ing the lat­est 3-D print­ing tech­nol­ogy to make repli­cas of his­tor­i­cal ar­ti­facts to give vis­i­tors a new way to in­ter­act with the ob­ject with­out dam­ag­ing the orig­i­nal. 3-D scan­ning tools also al­low for de­tailed anal­y­sis of frag­ile spec­i­mens.

An ex­am­ple of that is an ex­hi­bi­tion trav­el­ing around the coun­try called “Mum­mies: New Se­crets From the Tombs” or­ga­nized by Chicago’s Field Mu­seum. It used a med­i­cal CT scan­ner to “un­wrap” the mum­mies. Mu­seum-go­ers can peek un­der the wrap­pings by ma­nip­u­lat­ing large ta­ble-top com­puter scans placed along­side the del­i­cate spec­i­mens to see their clothes, hair­styles and the jew­elry they took to their graves.

“The real power of 3-D scan­ning is that you have so many dif­fer­ent po­ten­tial out­comes,” said Adam Me­tallo, who, with Vin­cent Rossi, leads the 3D dig­i­ti­za­tion team at the Smith­so­nian’s 19 mu­se­ums and nine re­search cen­ters. You can make an ex­act replica of some­thing for dis­play or cre­ate a dig­i­tal model for a touch­screen interactive that peo­ple can view out­side the mu­seum. “We’re in­ter­ested in lever­ag­ing the tech­nol­ogy to kind of take down the walls and pro­vide un­prece­dented ac­cess,” said Rossi.

Vir­tual reality

Vir­tual reality, which uti­lizes spe­cial head gear to cre­ate the ef­fects, can trans­port vis­i­tors to places they could never reach, like in­side the hu­man body or the bot­tom of the sea. At the Franklin In­sti­tute in Philadel­phia, vis­i­tors can ex­plore a space shut­tle and walk through the nu­clear dis­as­ter site in Ch­er­nobyl with a vir­tual reality head­set. At a re­cent spe­cial event at the Amer­i­can Mu­seum of Nat­u­ral His­tory, young vis­i­tors tested out vir­tual reality goggles that “shrank” them to the size of a beetle for a close-up view of the weevil’s anatomy. —AP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.