Museums are usually considered purveyors of the past, but in Alex Benays eyes, they might be better off as tech pioneers. The concept here is using things like virtual reality, open data, anything that gets the story out whether its raw or filtered, [it] means engagement.
Benay uses Ace Academy: Black Flight – a video game developed for the Canada Aviation and Space Museum – as an example. In Black Flight, players assume the roles of First World War fighter pilots using their mobile devices to fly and fight in historical dogfights. The app has been downloaded 56,790 times in 172 countries, and cost the museum a little over $100,000, Benay says.
Compared with the multimillion dollar exhibits, he believes that apps and virtual reality scenarios can be developed relatively inexpensively.
Benay says tech is not just a supplement to museums, but a big part of their future: “We haven’t found anybody else that’s thinking this way right now [about VR exhibits]. Which means we’re either completely out to left field, or we’re on to something. I like to think we’re on to something.”