VIRTUAL REALITY AT THE SMITHSONIAN, A SOCIAL EXPERIENCE

By January 29, 2019 Virtual Reality

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Just as artists and curators are creating or commissioning virtual reality artworks to exploit the technology’s innovations, art institutions are moving forward with VR projects. Last year, the Guggenheim Museum partnered with Google’s Cultural Institute to let viewers virtually experience the museum and its artworks, while The British Museum turned its Ancient Egyptian collection into a VR experience. This week, the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) announced a partnership with Intel and Linden Lab (creators of Second Life) that turns its current exhibition, No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man, into a virtual experience on Linden Lab’s social VR platform, Sansar. Now those with VR headsets, whether they be individuals or groups, can virtually tour No Spectators (alone or with Smithsonian tour guides), an incredibly faithful simulation of the exhibition’s immersive room-sized installations, costumes, jewelry, and ephemera.

“What we loved about having Sansar in this mix is the social element, our curator has been giving virtual tours in Sansar, and she just loves the fact that she can go into this space and walk people around, even if those people are in Los Angeles, San Francisco, or some other city, and connect with them in real time with the stories behind the pieces in an interactive way.” explains Sara Snyder, SAAM’s chief of external affairs and digital strategy.

These are great examples of the future of virtual exhibitions and the addition of social VR to enable a joint experience of artwork from any location. The same technology can easily be applied to similar applications, such as music venues, events and tourism locations. How do can you envision applying social VR experiences to your industry?