Deutsches Museum in Munich – Live and Virtual

Updated: Oct 17, 2020

On the 23rd of May MUSEL went directly into the “digital heart“ of the Deutsches Museum in Munich and, together with its camera team, visited the VR Lab of the world’s biggest museum for science and technology. People from all around the globe that are interested in digital content and its possibilities regarding audience development can now watch the interview that Angelika Schindel, co-Founder and press voice behind the idea of MUSEL, has produced during the visit with Andrea Geipel. Andrea is the lead of the VR LAB. Kofi Sika Latzoo, Founder, creative director of MUSEL and gaming professor, took part in the talk “live” from Dakar via Skype. A film documentation was made by Jan Klein, camera operator, under Kofi’s creative direction and can be seen continuously both on the MUSEL Website and on YouTube. This article is part of the new MUSEL magazine.

Experiencing and testing new things

Andrea explains that the VR Lab as a very special place is part of a bigger research project, called museum4point0. Six institutions in Germany are partnering for this huge project and working together on how to use digital tools and digital storytelling in museums and exhibitions. 3D Scanning, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are the actual topics in the VR Lab, which is the biggest and most visual part of the museum’s digital department, according to Andrea . “It is here where the museum’s digital experts and staff are experimenting together with visitors. And this a nice way to experience and test new things.“

Go to the moon with us!

One of the daily challenges in Andrea’s working life in the museum is to make people understand that the digital is something like an add-on and not a replacement. “It is not the real world against the digital world.”, she says. In these days and for the next few years the Deutsches Museum will be “under construction” for reasons of modernization . When MUSEL visited the museum half of it was shut down. Before the exhibits were taken out of the museum due to the renovation process, they were digitized and brought into digital life to secure and show them. This is a new chance to make the museum visible globally. With digitization the museum is also able to show very special projects like the “lunar vehicle”. Andrea’s recommendation: “Go to the moon with us!” or choose one of the other very interesting 360 digital tours that show you also parts of the museum that now are closed or will even be closed forever.

The emotional connection is very important

Kofi mentioned in his first of three questions to Andrea that the VR technology is originating from the gaming technology. Today it is wide spread in many applications. How is the relationship between the museum and the gaming industry? “VR comes from the gaming industry, yes”, notes Andrea. “I would say that it is very common in research and working areas, and for learning it is very good. Having the feeling of being in another world helps a lot emotionally to connect you to what you learn. It’s entertaining and totally in line with what a museum should do in regard to giving you something new to experience. With VR you do all that. You cannot grab it but you have the feeling that it would be like that. It is very much different to just watching a video or reading a text. This emotional connection is very important.”

Bring the museums in people’s homes

Kofi’s second question refers to the global lockdown. Indeed, when

MUSEL was in the Deutsches Museum in the month of May it was

just the moment of a first small and very prudential reopening, with many regulations and restrictions for visitors after a two-month total shutdown for museums and cultural institutions not only in the city of Munich.

“How do you spread the news? Is f.ex.

Occolus, a very affordable device, something that can help you in this special situation to reach the audience? How could you bring the VR content to the visitor at home ?,” Kofi is asking. In terms of technology, Andrea is confirming Kofi’s thought about a device like the f.ex. Oculus being a good idea, however the museum tries a variety of different options to play, create virtual tours that let you walk through the museum and making 360 videos. “It would be great“, says Andrea, “to give people the opportunity not only now during Corona to bring the museums into their homes. Not only for those who can afford the Occolus quest. Our tours can be watched easily by computer or by smartphone.”

A constant process of learning and adaption

The new generations of museums? Now in 2020 and in the future? How can the digital natives be conquered, after the boomer generation who already is consuming the content? “It is a constant process of learning and adaption. And it also means fighting some fights with people who want to keep everything as it is. It needs time to adapt things. Museums will still be important and they will become community places more and more. Museums are spots where people can meet, discuss topics and are getting more access to knowledge. It is more about the exchange, both real and digital but also inclusive and international.”

The Deutsches Museum is the world's biggest museum for science and technology. In the more than 30 exhibitions covering 25,000 square meters of floor space, the museum offers over 100.000 masterpieces of science and technology. For people who cannot come to Munich there a more than a dozen very interesting virtual guided tours through the huge museum. They show visitors from all over the world the digital collections, speak about discoveries and inventions. In times of Corona the Deutsches Museum has a lot more digital visitors than in normal times.

MUSEL is an intercultural and intercontinental team of experts who showtime the digitization in museums and art spaces around the world. MUSEL works cross-media with film series like MUSEEN TALK, podcasts, Apps and now with the MUSEL magazine. The creative team around its founder Kofi Sika Latzoo, situated in Dakar, Senegal, and co-founder Angelika Schindel, situated in Munich, Germany, offers consulting in digitalization in the GLAM (industry sector). GLAM is an acronym for "galleries, libraries, archives, and museums", and refers to cultural institutions with a mission to provide access to knowledge.

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