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‘The Lab: Making Sense of Immersion’ a New Handbook on Immersive Experiences in Museums

The Lab: Making Sense of Immersion in 2021 was an online program that provided a safe space for dialogue among tech, immersive experiences studio experts and museum professionals at an international level. It aimed to harvest collective knowledge and collaboratively solve industry challenges.

From November 2020 to January 2021, four online sessions welcomed 11 experts to dive deep into a selection of case studies and unpack their practices, habits and advice. Among the experts were, representatives of venues and institutions such as The Met, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Centre Phi, and Artechouse, among others, as well as studios such as Lucid Realities, Diversion Cinema, Marshmallow Laser Feast, and Atlas V, among others. These sessions were followed by collaborative problem-solving workshops with key actors from the museum and immersion sectors. Around hundred professionals took part in the workshops.  

From these sessions, inspiring insights have been compiled and transformed into a handbook for museum practitioners and immersive experience producers. 

Key takeaways from the handbook

Gathering experts in a single (virtual) location has allowed us to harvest unique knowledge on how to produce, disseminate and present immersive works in museums.  

One of the main questions from our participants has been how best to best balance long-term planning necessitated by museums and the fast evolution of tech? The answer lies in the critical necessity to initiate collaboration early on in the production pipeline of an immersive project so the content fits the space, the narrative and the audience. Both sides should be aware of cultural differences and should be ready to adapt accordingly. Understanding and celebrating the skills and expertise of both cultural institutions and producers could smooth collaborations and speed up project production.  

We also learned that it is key to diversify the catalogue of creations and their formats, as well as the partners engaged and the models of production and business. Still following this logic of testing and adapting, our guests and participants advised activating a variety of channels of communication to get all visitors on board. The program also highlighted the need to try new ways to distribute VR experiences: create mind-blowing installations in cultural centres, but also in other places such as commercial centres or rent VR headsets for watching at home (like renting books in a library!).  

Overall, our guests reminded us that the industry is still young and it is crucial to provide audiences with a positive experience when introducing them to VR. Our main goal for today is still to be evangelists for this new technology and inspire a new generation of visitors and artists. 

Read & dowload the report here: https://tinyurl.com/makingsenseofimmersionin2021

‘The Lab: Making Sense of Immersion in 2021’ was organized by We Are Museums, along with Museum Connections, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the US, Pixii FestivalKaleidoscope and Fabbula