The Natural History Museum goes digital

Google has partnered with the Natural History Museum in London to virtualise exhibits on show and specimens documented in the museum.

The virtual reality (VR) experience will allow people to explore its exhibits even if they are sat at home.

Using Google street view technology people will be able to visit g.co/naturalhistory and explore the museum and all it’s specimens and exhibits, with gigapixal photography providing life like art visualisations on the walls.

The Natural History Museum’s director Sir Michael Dixon said Google’s expertise had rapidly advanced the museum’s use of technology: “It has enabled us to try out new technologies at a much much faster rate than we could do using traditional approaches.

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The Natural History Museum has space to present around 25,000 of its 80 million specimens at any one time.

But by using emerging technologies – like virtual reality (VR) – visitors can view 300,000 digital specimens, including fossils from dinosaurs, and other extinct animals.

These 300,000 digital specimens within the Google-based program are available through 9 virtual exhibitions.

Pioneering projects like these are representative of a growing desire to digitise operations in a range of organisations.

In this case, it is education that is seeing the benefits of embracing technologies like VR to deliver an immersive educational experience.

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Sir Dixon said: “We want to challenge as many people as possible to think differently about the natural world, because now more than ever, understanding our past and present can help shape the future.”

Utilising the technology available to us can have a profound impact on scientific research, and education, and it won’t be long before Google is partnering with the other 59 Natural History Museums dotted around the world.

The director of Google’s Cultural Institute, Amit Sood: “Technology can be used not only to make museums’ treasures accessible to people around the world, but also to create new experiences for museum-goers”.

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is the editor for Information Age. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and cyber security.

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