As people in countries all around the world have been asked to practice social distancing, to stay home and avoid crowded places, an increasing number of museums and tourist attractions have temporarily closed their doors. This kind of entertainment has had to adapt and search for new solutions.
That’s why this year, virtual museum tours have become more and more common. Virtual reality has the power to transport people to museums they might never be able to visit in real life. So welcoming digital visitors into the museums all around the globe with unprecedented access and ease is a great advance. Some museums opt for tours in the form of interactive online maps. Others choose to share image galleries or banks of 3D scans of their pieces.
Some of the museums that have this experience available are the British Museum (London), Musée d’Orsay (Paris), Van Gogh Museum (Amsterdam), MASP (São Paulo), National Museum of Anthropology (Mexico City), National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (Seoul) and many more. These free online offerings range from scrappy clips filmed on iPhones to smooth interactive websites.
However, the potential of virtual museum tours goes far beyond this. There is an upcoming opportunity to create a far better virtual tour experience with the capacity of monetization. Live streaming museum tours are appearing and they are clearly standing out from the rest. With the possibility to have tour guides who you can ask questions and ask them to show you something, the experience elevates to a whole new level.
Some museums have started charging to experience their shows on the internet. For example, London’s National Gallery. In a half-hour video tour, Letizia Treves, the show’s curator, takes viewers on a walk through the gallery.
“Clearly, a video doesn’t substitute for being here,” said Chris Michaels, the National Gallery’s digital director. “But it’s a new way of letting audiences in,” he added, “and of us generating income, obviously.” The National Gallery began the tour last month. It costs 8 pounds, about $10.70. That’s half the price of in-person tickets.
Mr. Michaels, the gallery’s digital director, said that this has made the museum gain a few thousand dollars. But he pointed out that this is about engaging audiences in new ways, especially those who can’t get here.
On the other hand, the Design Museum offered an online tour of its popular “Electronic” exhibition about the history of dance music. The streaming video tour featured experts talking about the objects on show, as well as interviews with musicians and designers whose work is featured.
Furthermore, some museums in the United States have also started the monetization of their online tours. For example, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, offers a service in which an educator meets a group online to talk through works from the collection. Kathryn Galitz, who manages this program for the Met, said in an interview that the museum had done more than 80 digital streaming events so far this year, including birthday parties and a meeting of an all-female art history society.
Now, people can have a full museum experience without leaving their couch.