Virtual Museum Tours are steadily becoming more and more common. VR has

the power to transport users to places they might never be able to visit in real life

so welcoming digital visitors into the museums of the world is a natural fit. It’s also

a huge win for students across the globe as they get to explore some amazing

pieces of world history with unprecedented access and ease.


This really strikes a chord with me as an international educator, working in a British

curriculum school in the Middle East. Access to museums here is limited and

exhibits tend to focus on Middle Eastern history. There’s nothing wrong with this

of course – there’s some amazing artefacts to be seen – but our curriculum goes

much further. Take for example when I was working in Year 3 when I first moved

here in 2008. Much like the Year 3 students I had been teaching in London,

the pupils in Dubai worked on an Ancient Egypt project. Of course the students back

home got to visit the British Museum to see some of the world’s most famous Egyptian

relics. No such luck for the students here (though I did visit the museum during a trip

back home with a camcorder and record them a little walkaround tour.)

Some museums opt for virtual tours in the form of interactive online maps. Others

choose to share image galleries or banks of 3D scans of their artefacts. VR offers the

most immersive experience though and here I’d like to share ten of my favourite

virtual museum tours. I’ve tried to choose from a range of platforms to highlight the variety on offer.

1. National Museum of Natural History

This famous museum in Washington has several virtual tours integrated directly onto

the web. Using Web VR means that virtual visitors can utilise any headset, provided

a Web VR enabled browser it used. The tours include both permanent and past

exhibitions with the core tour offering dozens  of panoramic images that can be

navigated via an on-screen map or interactive arrows. What the tour lacks in

supporting content (there’s no additional multimedia for the exhibits) it certainly

makes up for in scope and range, with dinosaurs, sea life, geology and more in focus.


2. Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian American Art Museum
PLATFORM: Wonder 360 app (iOS/Android)

Created with InstaVR (a platform I’ve been exploring myself recently), this virtual tour

from The Smithsonian presents the Renwick Gallery in interactive form. Nine leading

contemporary artists created site-specific, gallery-sized installations and you can

navigate through the halls of the museum to explore them. Multimedia tags can be

selected to bring up additional information, videos and more.


3. National Museum of Iraq
PLATFORM: Google Expeditions (iOS/Android)

There are several museum tours available within Expeditions. I chose this one of the

National Museum of Iraq as I felt it was a great example of a museum that many

people may never visit due to its location. The great thing about accessing them this

way is that a teacher can guide the students through a shared virtual tour, directing

their focus and using the integrated information to explain more about what they are



4. Hintze Hall, NHM London

PLATFORM: SketchFab (any device)

Thomas Flynn is the Cultural Heritage Lead at Sketchfab and has produced some

outstanding models for their Heritage and History wing. This 3D scan of the Hintze

Hall in London’s Natural History Museum is an excellent example. With multiple focus

points, the VR visitor can quickly get up close to some of the amazing exhibits, each

accompanied by annotations to share more information. These short text overviews

are accompanied by hyperlinks to additional detail about the chosen focal point from

the museum’s website. It’s not the biggest, most complete or even most polished

museum tour on the list but it does herald a future where more and more visitors will

capture their own 360 scans and build VR tours for themselves.


5. The Louvre
PLATFORM: YouVisit (Web VR/iOS/Android)

YouVisit has really been gathering steam lately within higher education circles with their

university campus tours. Here they offered a guided tour through the Louvre in Paris

which can be accessed via the web or directly within their free VR app. The tour begins

outside and moves through ten areas of the museum. Each location offers additional

images, videos clips and information about the exhibits.


6. The British Museum
PLATFORM: Boulevard (Oculus Rift/Gear)

The Boulevard app (formerly called Woofbert) offers multiple immersive VR museum

experiences including this latest from The British Museum itself. Available free on the

Rift and Gear, with other platforms in development including the HoloLens, it is fast becoming into one

of best places to look for virtual museum tours.



The British Museum is also working on a dedicated VR experience with Oculus which

is due to launch shortly. For a taste, click here

7. Metropolitan Museum of Art
PLATFORM: YouTube 360

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a dedicated VR tour project called Met 360⁰

which takes the form of a series of 360 videos from within the museum. The clips are

hosted on YouTube and each is accompanied by a short description of the content.

The series allows viewers to explore The Met as never before through unique

camera angles and the removal of protective covers on certain exhibits.


8. The Museum of Natural Sciences
PLATFORM: Google Street View (web/iOS/Android)

Google Street View is another platform that has multiple virtual museum tours on

offer. This is one of the more professional tours, released through Google’s Cultural

Institute and it boasts a huge collection of panoramas from within this science

museum in Belgium. Each location is accompanied by a high-res image with some

additional details.


9. The National Museum of Computing

PLATFORM: Matterport (any device)

Matterport came to my attention through the work being done by the HistoryView

VR team. Their 3D cameras produce the most stunningly detailed 3D environments.

This tour of the UK’s Museum of Computing includes two main rooms full of exhibits

along with embedded information points that explain them in more detail. Whilst the

tour only covers part of the museum, it does include the world’s oldest working

computer and a lot of other fascinating artefacts from the field.

10 The VR Museum of Fine Art

Medium: HTC Vive

This final example could be considered either cheating or simple genius. The VR

Museum of Fine Art on the Vive is not a real museum. Instead this free app collates

some of the world’s most famous works of art from the annals of history into one

fully immersive space. The Statue of David welcomes you as you enter and shares

space with the likes of the Mona Lisa, the Terracota Army and many more.

The paintings are incredibly detailed and you can get so close you can see

the texture of the paint. Truly stunning and in my opinion a sign of things to come.

Pretty soon users will collate their own personalised collections in VR I’m sure and

specialists will be able to collate “super-collections” on certain themes e.g. all

of the world’s Ancient Egyptian relics in one place for the first time. Now that would

be something!

Here’s a clip I recorded inside the Fine Art Museum experience:

Source<: VirtualiTeach