XR technology: advantages and future perspectives in museums

The benefits and uses of XR technology in museums

Women with digital glasses
Recently, extended reality (XR) solutions have become an attractive and rapidly growing area of interest in the museum context. XR is an innovative technology that combines virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR) and has the potential to transform the overall experience in museums. By seamlessly combining the real and digital worlds, XR enables visitors to experience the museum environment in a distinctive way. In this blog post, we explore how extended reality technologies are enriching the museum experience and reshaping the visitor's experience at all possible stages of the museum discovery journey.

What is extended reality (XR)?

Extended reality (XR) is an innovative technology that combines all previously known immersive technologies, such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR). XR technology combines VR, AR, and MR to blend the boundaries between the real and virtual worlds, adding digital elements to the physical environment. Extended reality can provide a wide variety and multiple levels of virtuality.XR provides a unique experience through the unique interaction of the human senses with the surrounding environment. The boundaries between reality and the simulated world disappear when a human being is immersed in a visual, auditory, or tactile experience of a world they have never experienced before.

Technology in museums

In recent years, museums have actively explored and invested in digital tools as a visitor attraction strategy. Extended reality technology is a powerful tool for improving exhibitions and transforming their conception, organization, and audience engagement. Here are some examples of how extended reality technology can enhance museum exhibitions and improve the visitor experience.

Tours of the museum's spaces

  • Virtual tours

XR solutions have the potential to broaden museum tours beyond physical limitations and offer cultural content to a larger audience. Virtual tours enable visitors to experience exhibitions directly through a web browser or mobile app from any location and at their convenience. A variety of XR technology tools are available in the market, making it feasible to implement the virtual tour concept effectively. For instance, the British Museum provides an immersive museum exploration experience through these progressive technologies.

  • Interactive guides

With XR smart devices, visitors can uniquely explore museum spaces. They can observe a holographic guide who not only accompanies them through the museum spaces, but also presents the stories behind the exhibits, introduces them to the ongoing exhibitions, and provides other relevant information. Interactive guides are a unique experience that stimulates visitors' interest and involvement in the museum and its history.

  • Personalized tours

Personalized tours are based on the needs of individuals and/or groups of visitors, providing a more tailored and immersive visit experience. The ArtLens app from the Cleveland Museum of Art illustrates how technology integration can enhance personalized museum experiences. Through this app, visitors can use their mobile devices as interactive guides, receiving personalized tours and access to multimedia content that enhances their understanding of the artworks.ArtLens app, Cleveland Museum of Art, 2018. Image: Cleveland Museum of Art.


  • Digital interpretations of art

XR technology can help discover new frontiers in the perception of art, providing unique perspectives on art appreciation. Extended reality solutions can transform exhibits into an interactive form, complementing them with 3D models, holograms, or other visualizations, allowing visitors to interact with digital objects. All of this can help to see objects from a new angle or in a way that is not possible with physical artifacts alone, for example, to see the internal structure of a mummy without opening it.

  • Immersive sound and visual installations

The integration of XR with multisensory elements (e.g. sound, smell, and touch) can create a unique atmosphere in museum spaces and a memorable connection with the exhibits. It can also help recreate historical sites and environments typical of the period. For example, using extended reality technology, a visitor can smell the scent of spices in a recreated historical market scene.

Educational programmes

  • Virtual science experiments

Extended reality solutions enable participation in virtual science experiments that simulate real laboratory experiments without the need for physical materials. This not only helps to save resources but also enables safe experimentation.

  • Simulations and reconstructions

Simulations and reconstructions of historical events, natural phenomena, or scientific processes can offer visitors a more profound understanding and a visually immersive experience of key concepts. With extended reality, visitors can explore the sequence of historical events, glimpse into the daily life of ancient civilizations, or see archaeological excavations.

  • Immersive learning environments

This technology can create immersive learning environments where students can interactively explore historical events, scientific concepts, or works of art. The Science Museum in London has utilized extended reality technology to enhance science and math education. The Wonderlab AR mobile app combines the latest technologies to bring scientific phenomena to real life. Extended reality technologies add dynamism to educational content, making learning more engaging and effective.Science Museum Group’s Wonderlab AR app, 2022. Image: PRELOADED

How do XR technologies enrich museum operations and visitor experiences?

  • Increased engagement. XR technologies can create a more interactive and emotionally engaging experience, changing the way museums present educational content and engage with visitors;
  • A wide range of technologies. Extended reality includes virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR), offering different levels of engagement and interaction, which can be chosen according to the specific needs of an exhibition or program;
  • Extended capabilities. XR technologies offer new opportunities to create and experiment with scenarios that may be too complex or impossible to implement in the real world;
  • Efficient resource allocation. Extended reality technologies can speed up work processes and reduce time and resource consumption;
  • Creativity and innovation. XR technologies encourage creativity and innovation by enabling unique experiences and experimentation with new ideas and concepts.

The future of immersive experiences in museums

The future holds the promise of a reimagined visitor experience, where advanced technologies such as extended reality will transport visitors to different periods and locations, allowing them to interact with historical artifacts and cultural exhibits in ways previously unimaginable.

It is expected that these innovations will help to create a deeply immersive and educational experience, enabling visitors to better understand and evaluate the stories and artifacts on display.

In addition, the integration of AI-driven interpretation and interactive exhibits will personalize the museum journey for each visitor, making it more engaging, informative, and memorable.

Final words

XR technologies offer museums a wide range of powerful tools to enhance visitor engagement, offer interactive and immersive learning experiences, and expand the accessibility of exhibitions. By strategically leveraging extended reality technologies, museums can evolve into dynamic, interactive spaces that not only captivate and educate a broader audience but also extend their reach beyond the confines of their physical locations.

We hope that this blog post has helped to deepen your knowledge of XR technology and its applications, but if you would like to know more, feel free to get in touch!