Augmented Reality

Digital Museum Experience: Exploring Opportunities in Mixed Media Storytelling Using Augmented Reality

Abstract
This research project explores opportunities for mobile augmented reality (AR) applications in digital museum experiences. Although AR technology can be used to improve a visitor’s interactions with artifacts and their contextualized information, the museum community remains unconvinced on the efficacy of AR (Marques & Costello, 2018). Museums hesitate to adopt AR due to concerns of gimmickry, detraction of the museum experience, and user cognitive overload. The usability and perceived usefulness of mobile AR is investigated through a comparative evaluation of existing AR applications for museums. A mixed-media storytelling mobile AR application is prototyped to demonstrate how mobile AR can improve access and enhance public engagement with cultural artifacts. By fulfilling the aim of the project using the findings from the comparative evaluation, mobile AR can be more readily accepted for museums. This project presents new insights to usability evaluations of mobile AR apps for digital museum experiences.
About the Author
Aline Nguyen

Aline Nguyen is an interdisciplinary designer, artist, and storyteller with a specialization in graphic design. Since receiving her Honours Bachelor of Design from York University/Sheridan College, she has worked with various clients and businesses to discover, create, and grow their visual brand and digital presence. As a creative problem solver, Aline is interested in exploring and re-thinking the user experience between humans and digital media.

About the Project

The majority of museums cannot exhibit their entire collections to the public. This may be due to several reasons, such as limited space, limitation in traditional approaches, the nature of the artifacts, or the overall lack of funding and resources available (Wojciechowski et al., 2004). Even when museums do exhibit parts of their collections, museum visitors often experience some form of constrained interaction (Wojciechowski et al., 2004). For example, many museums have a ‘no-touch’ policy to the general public and visitors cannot touch or closely examine the artifacts from all angles. These restrictions make it difficult to compare and study cultural artifacts. This research project empirically investigates the following two main questions.

Research Questions

  • How can mobile AR technology improve access to cultural artifacts that are fragile, rare, expensive, or overall inaccessible to the general public?
  • How can mobile AR technology enhance public engagement with cultural artifacts?

Solution

Mobile augmented reality is a promising technology for cultural heritage museums because it offers powerful, highly engaging, and cost-effective solutions for visitors to interact with their collections in both an informative and entertaining way. It enables museum visitors to be active learners rather than distant observers of cultural artifacts. The following research project, ARGO, explores how augmented reality combined with mixed media storytelling can be used to improve access to cultural artifacts and to encourage meaningful learning, exploration, and discussion of cultural heritage.

About ARGO

ARGO is a mobile augmented reality app that can be used in combination with printed materials for a storytelling experience with a collection of artifacts. The app enables participants to scale, rotate, move, and trigger animations and audio of interactive 3D models of the artifacts. Through the power of storytelling and play, it allows participants to embark on an immersive experience into the story and the contextualized information of the artifacts.

To learn more about the project ARGO visit: http://www.alinenguyen.com/mrp/thesis.html

References

Marques, D., & Costello, R. (2018). Concerns and Challenges Developing Mobile Augmented Reality Experiences for Museum Exhibitions. Curator: The Museum Journal, 61(4), 541-558. https://doi.org/10.1111/cura.12279

Wojciechowski, R., Walczak, K., White, M., & Cellary, W. (2004). Building virtual and augmented reality museum exhibitions. Proceedings of the Ninth International Conference on 3D Web Technology, 135-144. https://doi.org/10.1145/985040.985060

Attribution and Image Sources

Cover Photo by Liza Rusalskaya on Unsplash 

Jia Wine Vessel, Owl Zun Vessel, and You Wine Vessel by the Minneapolis Institute of Art is licensed under Creative Commons Zero (CC0 1.0) public domain




MY NEONORMAL STORY
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Without a doubt, the unprecedented challenges set by COVID-19 has greatly impacted many to re-think their relationship with technology and digital media. My research project, ARGO, explores alternative ways for the artifact-viewing experience through the use of mobile augmented reality and mixed-media storytelling. As I view my research through the lens of a global pandemic, it has inspired me to adopt new perspectives and explore a different avenue of ideas for improving access to culture and education.