MuseWeb Master Class: Virtual Tours
Wednesday, November 18, from 2-5pm (EST)
See MCN Schedule

About the Workshop:
A virtual tour is a form of semi-immersive VR technology that allows you to experience a certain location or virtual content remotely. The concept is to represent a real place in a virtual world that allows you to explore the place as if you are actually there.

While virtual museum tours have been around for a long time with The Frick Collection offering virtual tours as early as 1999, clearly over the past decade, Virtual Reality (VR) has gone mainstream. Technology has advanced rapidly in the last few years and in addition to museums, VR experiences can now be found at theme parks, FECs, retail malls and are now the hot item when selling or renting your house. By the year 2022, the global VR market is estimated to grow to $209.2 billion. This is 7.7 times more than the 2018’s global market (data reference: Techjury.net). When the technology that museums use go mainstream it has both positive and negative impacts: prices go down while technology options go up at the same time the competition from mainstream media companies, including gaming and tourism increases.

Now COVID-19 has pulled most museums, some screaming and crying, on to the virtual reality bandwagon. Many museums were already providing virtual tours through Google Arts & Culture. This online platform has gained even more publicity during the lockdown. But as Museum Hack highlighted in April 2020, “Virtual Museum Tours Were Popular for 4 Days”. So, yes museums are adding VR to their offering but who is in charge and do they know what they are doing? Did anyone check who is the audience and what they are looking for? Are they doing it right and for that matter what is the right way to do it? Are they just throwing something up quick to make it seem like they care and failing and are there better ways to do it? How much should it cost, and should they do it in house or outsource part or all of it?

In this half day workshop, we will take a closer look, a virtual tour of virtual tours so to speak and explore examples from around the sector. We will review how VR allows museums to bring objects, scenes and stories to life making it easier for visitors to understand and put them in context. In addition to these positive benefits, we will review how many tours fail to leverage the technology and often ignore the visitors needs. We will explore what a tour virtual tour is, what could it be about… from physical spaces to intangible content to building museums and hosting events in virtual worlds. We will walk you through a couple of different ways to do it, from outsourcing the whole thing to DIY and from static tours to hybrid VR tours led by a tour guide. You will learn how much it costs and what combinations of equipment and software lets you do what parts of it yourself if you do it in house and what vendors can you outsource it to. We will explore the side benefits of this kind of documentation as well as all the pros and cons.

You will learn:

  • What is virtual reality?
  • What is a virtual tour?
  • How your museum can benefit from using virtual tours
  • How your visitors can benefit from virtual tours
  • Tools, content and processes required to create a virtual tour
  • How to capture 360 panoramic images
  • How to create a virtual tour on your own

This workshop is designed for museum professionals who are interested in both the practical and academic. Whether you own the virtual reality hardware and software and do it all in house or you want to outsource the whole thing and just review and post the final product, this workshop is for you. By the end of this workshop you will no longer need to rely on any experts to help you create a virtual tour. You will be able to create compelling virtual tours on your own, at the least possible expense.

Co-Presenters:
Rich Cherry, Founder and Managing Partner, Museum Operations
Hiroko Kusano, Managing Partner, Museum Operations
David London, Chief Experience Officer, The Peale Center, Baltimore

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