The Effective Ways in which Art Galleries and Museums have Adopted Virtual Reality

Sep 30, 2021
5 min read

The basic assumption about art galleries and museums is that they are attached to history and tradition and never look into the future. As the world moves ahead, progressing to gadgets and building technical adaptability, galleries and art industries have typically stuck to their ways, relying on art lovers’ attendance. 

But with Covid-19 restrictions, both museums and galleries have finally received that much necessary wake-up call, starting to explore new ways to make their artwork viewable, accessible and sellable during, despite closures and limitations. We present the innovative, practical ways that art industries catch up with the crowds. With art sales hitting GenZers, it’s only appropriate to adapt to younger audiences who tap into the likes of social media, easily adjust to new realities and are constantly on the lookout for extraordinary experiences. 

So which ways have art galleries and museums already embraced virtual reality?

Long-Sharp Gallery
Image: Emperia | Long-Sharp Gallery

Boosting Art Visitor Engagement

The necessity to connect younger audiences with art is simultaneous, and art institutions were racking their minds to obtain the perfect engagement-increasing method to do so. 

Virtual reality has offered galleries an opportunity to entertain the masses by bringing art to life at the palm of a user’s hand. VR has provided visitors with a chance to experience artwork first or engage in an entirely immersive experience. 3D tours help audiences connect with art on a deeper level, enticing them to explore more and potentially- buy more. 

Christie’s famous art auction and selling house has utilised an entirely virtual reality experience where sellers can present their works in a creative space in a more appealing manner, allowing potential buyers to engage, inquire and directly purchase art pieces of interest. 

The popularity of the British Art Museum’s virtual experience was so immense that the museum now runs daily virtual experiences, meeting their high demand. 

Read here ‘Virtual Reality Engaging Art Lovers’

Enhanced Convenience

The pandemic proved art galleries a hardship in continuing business. The rise of VR for Art has come at the perfect time, allowing audiences to participate in shows and experiences digitally. Little did they know that this would lead to a viral takeover. 

As the coronavirus forced various cultural organisations and spaces to close their doors, consumer desire for online experiences and visual stimulation had started booming. While users were stuck at home, audiences needed their bit of entertainment.

The British Museum’s online collection page jumped from 2000 visitors per day to 170,000 during the lockdown, now still averaging 70,000 per day. London’s National Gallery has also tracked increased digital demand, with footfall to its virtual tour rising by 1000 percent compared to this time last year. Similarly, Google Arts and Culture – which provides hundreds of virtual tours for world-leading museums – has witnessed rising traffic in recent weeks, according to Newstatesmen. 

Not only does VR allow art galleries to gain users and conversions, but it also allows them to increase their reach beyond their normal physical boundaries into new audiences, making art more accessible than ever. 

Marketing with VR

If museums or galleries were concerned about whether people would ever be interested in real-life museum visits again, the answer is actually yes. Physical tours will never go out of style, but it’s fair to say that VR has assisted in this. VR has acted as a marketing tool for these galleries, sparking interest in new collectors, clients and sellers.

The British Museum, whose 2015 Bronze Age VR project intensified the experience of its guests, used VR to add context to the objects on display, sparking the audience’s interest and making them crave to see more and explore their new learnings in real life.

Read here ‘How to Utilise Social Media Marketing to Promote your VR Experience.’


Up-close and Personal

Virtual reality allows visitors to spend more time at a particular virtual location, letting the VR user view art in a much more immersive, personal way. Although physical galleries are a favourite for many, gallery-goers embrace the opportunity to spend more time around a favourite piece and further explore it. 

A brilliant example is Musée du Louvre in Paris and its first venture into VR. Mona Lisa: Beyond the Glass enabled visitors to see the museum’s (and the world’s) most famous painting in a unique aspect.

Da Vinci’s ‘Mona Lisa’ is so credited worldwide that art-lovers can’t spend time with the work on its own. The painting has always been crowded, loud and difficult to get one’s eyes on for too long. 

“Three years in the making, the exhibition perfectly highlights the potential that VR can realise. It shows the crossroad where art and technology meet – the curational contribution was enormous”, explains Head of the Louvre’s Interpretation and Cultural Programming department Dominique de Font-Réaulx, and everything from the subject’s hairstyle to the panoramic Italian backdrop was thoroughly advised on.

Virtual reality appears to appeal not only to history-loving audiences but to future art lovers. While started as a mean-to-end during financially challenging moments, VR experiences have proven to have the longevity both museums and galleries were hoping for, becoming an extension of their physical spaces and providing an up-close-and-personal way to experience art, like never before; and a new way for one to get to know his audience, its taste and wants and needs- and by doing so- design a more certain future.
If you would like to see how virtual reality can create an immersive experience for you, check out our art page at Emperia to find out more.

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