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British Museum sends people through time with VR

Now here’s how you put modern technology to good use. The British Museum has decided to employ virtual reality headsets to send its visitors back through time into the Bronze Age.

According to a report by The Guardian, the museum is launching its first virtual reality weekend, inviting visitors to engage with the past not just through the real objects in the galleries but through state of the art 3D headsets, tablets, and a projection of the recreated house into a dome structure large enough for groups of five to enter.

This is the institution’s first experiment in bringing the virtual reality and digital interpretation work up into the main museum and, as one might have imagined, older visitors were struggling with the VR, while the younger generation seemed to have no problems.

A common unease for the older ones was looking down at an apparently real floor but not seeing one’s own feet.

“The technology is particularly useful for the bronze age, a difficult period for visitors to engage with and imagine museum objects in their original context,” said curator Neil Wilkin. “The Bronze Age people are very annoying to archaeologists, they tended to scour the sites bare and burn their houses to the ground when they abandoned them, and bury their objects in pits up to a mile away.”

The virtual reality roundhouse has been created by Solius Heritage. Martin McDonnell, chief executive of the company, said the billions being invested in gaming technology had the side effect of making it far more available for heritage use, with cardboard headsets into which a cheap smartphone could be slotted already a reality: “We’re seeing the rapid democratisation of what had been very exclusive technology,” he said.