Augmented reality, the combination of real and computer-generated worlds viewed through your phone, is popping up wherever you look; in social media, advertising, games, etc! As a new, powerful tool for artistic creation and an innovative method of audience engagement, AR has the potential to revolutionize the way we experience art, and it was only a matter of time before AR entered the museum space. Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) has been at the forefront of the movement to bring AR into museums, and in December 2017, in partnership with Cuseum, they launched the first art exhibit using Apple’s ARKit.
With a generous grant from the Knight Foundation, PAMM commissioned Miami-based artist Felice Grodin to create a series of digital works that could be viewed through PAMM’s Cuseum-powered app, and together the artist, museum, and digital team turned those designs into an interactive AR experience!
As the first of its kind, this artistic and technological collaboration required a strong partnership between all of the organizations involved. PAMM was already using a Cuseum-powered app for visitor engagement, so it was a no-brainer to leverage this app as the base for the new AR project. The team at Cuseum enthusiastically jumped on board to bring to life the experience that PAMM and Grodin were envisioning. Although the success of this project relied on the input of all parties, Grodin’s vision always remained at the heart of this truly artist-driven endeavor.
In a serendipitous turn of events, PAMM initially began considering an AR-based exhibit at the same time that Apple was putting the finishing touches on its ARKit. Realizing this, all of the project players decided the time was ripe to create something not only artistically extraordinary, but also technologically innovative. As a result, Invasive Species (on view until April 21st) became the first art exhibition to make use of ARKit!
When Bloomberg Businessweek asked Apple CEO Tim Cook about the future of AR, Cook replied, “I think it is profound. I am so excited about it, I just want to yell out and scream.” We’re right there with him!
It would be impossible to imagine any limits for the potential uses of AR because it has the power to revolutionize so many industries and areas of life. For artistic spaces, however, AR holds special possibilities. Not only is it a new method of exhibiting art and engaging with your audience, it also represents a new canvas for artistic creation.
In creating Invasive Species, Grodin had new tools at her disposal and designed the pieces with a new conception of what art could be. Never before has your audience been able to walk through a piece of art!
The potential for utilizing AR within museums and cultural spaces is truly limitless. AR exhibits can stand on their own, as Invasive Species does, but they can also be used to enhance real-world exhibits.
Just imagine: you walk up to Starry Night, and suddenly you find yourself immersed in the painting with the swirling, starry sky above you. Or, the skeleton you’re examining in a natural history museum stands up and walks off its mount! Ancient ruins could showcase AR replicas of original buildings and cities, dinosaurs can come to life, famous historical figures can step out of their paintings to tell their story, and ancient artifacts that are too fragile for public display can finally be shown, all through AR!
AR holds unlimited potential as an educational tool, as well as a new method of engaging and guiding your visitors! Even something as simple as showing visitors where they need to go can be a great way of utilizing this technology.
So many options… where to start?
With the world of possibilities available to organizations through the use of AR, the question becomes, where to start?
This answer is different for every organization, but as more and more institutions embrace digital tools to enhance visitor engagement, there’s no denying that AR will play an important part in the ongoing exploration of different methods for engagement in cultural spaces.
By embracing this new tool, institutions are positioning themselves at the forefront of innovation and cementing their place as pioneers of advancement in the ever-evolving world of culture and audience engagement!