Located in the heart of Philadelphia, The Franklin Institute is a leader in science and technology learning through hands-on exhibits, theaters and live shows. So what better way to transform the way visitors engage with the museum than by immersing them in unique content in virtual reality.
This is the museum’s first time utilizing VR as an educational initiative and is also one of the larger VR presences we’ve seen at a museum. Opened to the public for the first time late last month, the museum makes use of the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift headset to take you into space in an exhibit they are calling their “Holodeck”. The exhibit has a rotation of science content for a complete, room-scale immersive experience.
The Franklin Institute also has their own mobile VR app experience, which includes one of the first 360-degree videos from the bottom of the deep ocean. This was paired with mass distribution of thousands of free Google Cardboard viewers to visitors, as well as VR experiences within such iconic exhibits as The Giant Heart, Your Brain, and Space Command, culminating in The Franklin Institute leveraging this expertise to host conferences and workshops to allow for knowledge sharing among museums educators and various audiences.
The Institute embarked on its transformative digital strategy in 2015 with the hiring of Chief Digital Officer Susan Poulton and the formation of a dedicated digital innovation team. “I am excited by the enormous potential museums have to be a catalyst for bringing emerging technologies to the public,” Poulton said. “The Institute will develop unique virtual reality and mobile content experiences and deliver them to expanded audiences, demonstrating that museums can take risks and lead the way digitally in ways they may have been reluctant to before.”
Embracing virtual reality within a museum setting is a perfect way to not only drive deeper and more lasting educational experiences with visitors, but also makes VR accessible to a larger audience of first-time users from content creators and universities who are looking to test builds with the broader Philadelphia public.
Can’t make it to the Franklin Institute? You can download their mobile app experience to visit places like the deep ocean to the flight deck of a space shuttle, all from the comfort of your from home.