The BBC is launching an augmented reality app that will enable people to explore historical artefacts from UK museums in virtual exhibitions.

It is a companion to BBC Two’s Civilisations series, which will be broadcast in spring 2018.

Users will be able to view and explore artefacts virtually – for example, looking at a mummy inside a sarcophagus.

The BBC has visited more than 30 UK museums to build its first augmented reality application.

Civilisations AR’ is being developed by BBC Research & Development and Nexus Studios to accompany its new landmark arts and culture series, Civilisations. It has been designed to explore some of the most important exhibits from UK museums in the comfort of their living rooms. The app will be available for IOS and Android from the beginning of the new series.

The new Civilisations is a modern take on Kenneth Clark’s 1969 series Civilisation. It’s presented by Simon Schama, Mary Beard and David Olusoga.

A range of fascinating artefacts have been digitally scanned and will be available to view as part of a new virtual exhibition. The app will feature exhibits like an ancient Egyptian mummy from the Torquay Museum, Rodin’s The Kiss from the National Museum of Wales, The Umbrian Madonna and Child from the National Museum of Scotland, as well as shining a light on treasures from smaller UK museums.

Eleni Sharp, executive product manager for BBC R&D, said: “The Civilisations Festival has opened BBC R&D up in a brand new way. Not only has it brought innovative digital tools and skills to hundreds of museums, galleries, libraries, archives and other arts organisations from all over the UK, it has enabled us to trial our ideas and technologies on a huge scale which is going to influence and inform our work over the coming months and years.”

It’s hoped the range of in-house and third party tools made available by BBC R&D to Civilisations Festival partners, will assist in storytelling, and leave a digital legacy once the festival has concluded.

The SOMA tool (single operator mixing application) is a browser-based mixer that lets a single operator to cut between any number of cameras, pre-recorded video, audio and graphics for live broadcast from a remote location, via the internet.

Another tool, SeenIt, will be available to cultural organisations to help them actively engage communities and audiences by making them contributors.

Live broadcasts will be hosted on museums’ websites and on BBC Taster.