In order to be more relevant and appealing to the new and future generations, culture and especially museums have entered a deep digital transformation phase in the last 5 years. Bearing the fruit of their research, they are now able to present the finest pieces of art which define our past… in a futuristic way. Apps, Virtual Reality and even holograms now allow visitors to have an enhanced and unique experience while also targeting a new digital and connected audience. Because nowadays, culture goes through Facebook, Instagram and SnapChat, and cultural institutions need to cope with it.


A new visitor experience

Sree Sreenivasan, the Met’s former Chief Digital Officer, who brought the New York museum in the social media age once stated that his «biggest competition is Netflix and Candy Crush, not other museums». Today, he could add Pokemon Go to the list. Sree is the man behind the launch of the first Met app, which helps users discover the galleries, media, events and resources that best meet their interest, putting once again the visitor at the center, and delivering personalized content. For instance, helping visitors navigate the Met has long been a challenge as 20 interconnected structures have been built since the institution first opened in 1880. Now, thanks to this app, visitors can easily discover the exhibitions: their experience has definitely been amplified. A digital pioneer, MediaLab, the research and development hub at the Met, explores, probes, pilots, and prototypes emerging technology within the Museum context. It recently worked on projection mapping, which is also known as spatial augmented reality. This technology turns physical objects and buildings into a surface for projected light, and it therefore creates an enhanced experience for the visitors as it combines digital information with real objects. This technique was notably used in the Department of Egyptian Art, in order to restore color on The Temple of Dendur.

In Paris, the Louvre replaced its old-fashioned audioguides in 2012 with Nintendo DS3 XL, giving the visitors access to HD pictures, 3D reconstitutions and several tours depending on their interests. Its little brother, the Louvre-Lens which opened in December 2012, launched a 3D touch-screen tablet developed in partnership with telecommunications giant Orange: it actually allows visitors to feel and manipulate the objects that are safely kept in the museum. Another purpose is to show people on how masterpieces are restored. Educational and playful, right?

From January to June 2016, the Dali Museum, located in St. Petersburg, Florida, offered its visitors the opportunity to explore one of the finest pieces of art ever created by the Spanish artist – the Archaeological Reminiscence of Millet’s Angelus – in 3D using an Oculus Rift mask, and re-live the painting just like Dali could have dreamt about it. When launching this 360 exhibition, Dali Museum Executive Director, Hank Hine explained: «Visitors can expect a multi-sensory environment of moving images, soundscapes, and the transformative aura of exquisite individual paintings. Disney and Dali broke new ground as artists – the Walt Disney Family Museum and The Dali will deliver a brave new world of experience».


Luxembourg and its growing «art tech» community

Last May, Smart Culture was one of the topics of the challenges handed to students during the 2016 edition of the MorpheusCup, which took place in Luxembourg. Created by Europeana, the challenge was won by Team LYR from Telecom Nancy, for their project called AudioSight: their app, which builds upon the Google Vision project, on the technology side, and Europeana Collections, on the content side, aims at making digital cultural heritage accessible for visually impaired people. Milena Popova from the Europeana Foundation adds: «Europeana provides access to more than 50 million digital records coming from over 3 300 cultural heritage institutions in Europe. This database represents huge thematic, language and media variety and a substantial part of it is available for free re-use». More than ever, culture is available for all.

In 2013, the Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean released its MUDAM GO! app destined to kids from 6 to 12 years old in order for them to discover artworks from the collection of MUDAM through games. While virtually walking through the alleys, kids can become their own artists and share their creations with the museum. Developed by Luxembourgish agency Bunker Palace, the app is the perfect tool to prepare a visit to the MUDAM.

Over the last years, Luxembourg has noticed a growing interest in art investment, yet, one of the main challenges remains to define the value of a piece of art, but also ensure its tractability. Technology has therefore a part to play, notably statistic valuation, Big Data analysis, chromatic algorithm and even AI… When it comes to tracing artworks, Deloitte Luxembourg’s blockchain development team revealed its ArtTracktive app at ICT Spring 2016, aiming at providing a distributed ledger for tracking the provenance and whereabouts of fine artworks. “The blockchain distributed ledger can trace the journey of artworks. When this technology is used in the art market, all events in the life cycle of an artwork are recorded and traceable. The application addresses one of the main concerns in the art market today, namely the fragile documentation related to the provenance and movements of a piece of art,” explains Patrick Laurent, Partner and Technology Leader at Deloitte Luxembourg.

Earlier this year also in Luxembourg, Olivier Raulot launched ARTNOLENS™, art innovative art platform which he describes as «a social media with a focus on culture and art». The connected gallery brings together artists and passionate fans and has one main goal: to create emotions and interpretations. With its «Connect, Discover, Become» approach, ARTNOLENS unlocks the gamification potential as artists get points when the community interacts with their projects.

The future of culture is a combination of technology and onsite visits, with those two aspects bridging the gap between generations and making sure all people find what they are looking for when walking in a museum. Technology brings something undeniable to the table: it enhances the visitor experience and favors the democratization of art.