The Smithsonian American Art Museum is embracing virtual reality as it looks to make cultural offerings more widely available.
Through a pair of partnerships, SAAM is looking to expand access to its exhibits and digitize more offerings.
In May, the museum announced a partnership with Intel, in which the tech giant detailed plans to deploy technology that makes exhibits available in virtual reality, and add to the museum’s 3D capture capabilities for works and artifacts.
This week, the first signs of the partnership are on view. The Renwick Gallery’s current exhibition, titled “No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man,” is available in virtual reality through Sansar, a platform which hosts “social” VR content. Intel’s processing capabilities were a key contribution to making the experience available, according to SAAM.
Museums are embracing immersive tech like virtual reality as a way to offer more inside the museum. The partnership shows that it can also help cultural institutions reach beyond the marbled halls. On this front, SAAM has a bold goal of reaching a billion people within five years.
“I don’t fear technology usurping the importance of art and museums,” Stephanie Stebich, the Director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, said in a statement. “I think technology can make museums and their collections even more inclusive, approachable, and dynamic.”
Putting the museum’s offerings in the digital realm can also help expand access to educators, Intel stated.
Ultimately, leaders hope to expand the tech to institutions across the entire Smithsonian.
Reaching beyond the exhibit space is very helpful and important for people who might not be able to visit the museum. That way, even more people will be able to view the exhibitions in virtual reality, which is a very important contribution to the preservation of cultural heritage. Finally, with the combination of elements from the Storytelling, Presence and Gamification fields (which are studied by the Thematic Area 4 of the ViMM project), the virtual museum experience that is offered to the people will be even more fun and interesting.