Who says museums have not yet begun their digital transformation? On the contrary, cultural venues are engaged in a race to use technology, whether it be for public reception, data management, or heritage preservation.

Chatbots, to organize events and guide the crowds

They are developing in all areas of customer relations, so it is not surprising that virtual assistants are also invading cultural venues. Without, of course, replacing “human” guides, chatbots can answer some of the most common basic questions. The Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam, for example, has developed a chat agent in collaboration with Facebook Netherlands, which runs on the Messenger application. Designed to be a companion in the image of Anne Frank, the young German woman known for writing her diary during the Nazi period, the software is useful for preparing her visit from a practical point of view, beforehand: timetables, booking a ticket, etc. But not only that, but it also allows you to ask questions related to the theme of the exhibition.

Virtual reality, to educate

The main interest in proposing virtual reality headsets and virtual collections within cultural venues is to reach a young public, sometimes reluctant to enter museums. With a new and attractive interface, the experience is similar to that of a video game. The role of this technology can, therefore, be educational: another way of discovering art, of browsing a monument, an exhibition… The National Museum of Natural History in Paris was the first French cultural institution to devote a permanent room to virtual reality.

Augmented reality, to safeguard historical memory

A real-time machine. Many museums and historical monuments now offer a touch tablet to accompany the visitor. Start-up Histovery, an operator of augmented tours, for example, is marketing the Histopad, a touch screen equipped with augmented reality technology that immerses visitors to castles in 360-degree reconstructions of the site. It is simple to use, point the Histopad at the bare walls of the monument, and the tablet restores the site to its state at a given time. The Conciergerie de Paris, the Palais des Papes in Avignon, and the Domaine National de Chambord have been using it for several years now.

Artificial intelligence, to manage and preserve

The AI may be put at the service of exhibition curators or heritage experts in data management issues. Since 1929, the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of New York (the MoMa) has been photographing all its temporary exhibitions. Each wall recorded in this way for nearly a century, comprising four or five works, makes up a humongous database of 30,000 images. But no information is associated with the works, apart from the name of the exhibition and the date. The institution, therefore, called on Google, which automatically aggregated each work using an image recognition algorithm. A titanic task that would have taken a heritage curator several years to complete.