Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Want to visit the British Museum without getting out of your jammies? Mobile technology has made it possible. The museum partnered with Google so smartphone users could view some 4,500 objects from its storied collection, making it part of the Google Cultural Institute. The same technology behind Google Maps is what makes virtually meandering around the museum possible.


An 18th Century Dream Come True

The goal of the British Museum back in the 18th century was to create a collection “of the world, for the world.” Departing museum director Neil MacGregor called the launch of the project “a very important day in the history of the British Museum” for that reason. 

“That Enlightenment fantasy, about 25 years ago became an Internet possibility, and today, thanks to the Google Cultural Institute, it is a practical reality,” he told The Guardian. “Every person on the planet, whether they are in Brazil or China, Mozambique or India, will be able to walk round the British Museum. They will be able to use the collection as if it were their own collection and explore the world in their own way.”

MacGregor also hopes the virtual tour will inspire people to visit the museum in person.

“It allows them to come better informed; to look and not just to see,” he said.


Specific Collections Found in an Instant

The virtual tour makes finding certain collections very easy once you chose the floor you want to “wander” around. Each floor features a list of items it contains, allowing you to view exactly what you want in a mere few seconds. 


New Virtual Exhibits

The museum has also created virtual exhibits in celebration of this new option. These include collections regarding Celtic life in Iron Age Britain, as well as a condensed version of the Egypt: Faith After the Pharaohs exhibit. One of the museum’s most important pieces, the 4th-century Admonitions scroll from China, is also available for virtual view. The scroll may only be viewed at the museum for a few months each year due to its fragility. 

It’s even possible to “walk” all the way down to the museum’s basement if you require a break from marveling at art and artifacts. The basement is filled with orange lockers and not much else, but if a break is in order, why not check it out? 

Take the virtual tour and get excited about art, history, and travel… it’s pretty darn nifty.