Museums brought to life by digital integrations

All things considered, I have found a degree of contentment in the last year. It was difficult for the first few months of 2020, with fear, shock, and loneliness taking up so much space in my brain – but like many, I adjusted to a simpler and more solitary version of life.

Now that there is light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, however, I’m allowing myself to get excited about the experiences I’ve missed!

An aspect of living in NYC that I loved was the over-abundance of creative outlets and opportunities to try new things – for example, being able to access interactive digital museums and galleries.

As a theatre lover, the reason live shows are so meaningful is that you know you had a truly unique experience as a viewer. A play is never exactly the same twice. Interactive museums are like that, too. The way you choose to explore the space defines how you view it, meaning no two people come away with identical impressions.

The imagination used to create displays like this by mixing art and modern technology is staggering, and results in experiences that encourage exploration and curiosity, and allows visitors to escape the real world.

At the time, I was also working for a tech company that focused on the digital side of live events, and was very aware of the awe-inspiring ability of technology to bring spaces to life. Being behind the scenes for work like this didn’t diminish the amazement I felt stepping into each of the following highly curated worlds, but only increased my respect for how much effort goes into each one.

Meow Wolf – Santa Fe, NM

Meow Wolf is one of the most famous examples of this type of installation – for good reason. Hundreds of artists work together to create an entire world unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. The first installation (started 2016) was formed in collaboration with George R.R. Martin, and visitors can explore at will, either discovering aspects of a larger story (by reading letters left on desks, venturing through secret passages, and more), or simply enjoying the whimsy.

It feels a bit like you’ve jumped into the pages of a magical novel, which for me is the ultimate dream.

SpyScape – New York, NY

Opened in 2018, this is actually a museum about spies rather than an art gallery, but includes many of the tech integrations that make the other spaces listed here so much fun to explore. Visitors test their skills – from lie detection, to solving puzzles, and dodging lasers – and are assigned a spy “profile” at the end of their visit. Fun for kids – and adults who wanted to be spies when they were kids (me).

“Escher: The Exhibition and Experience” – Brooklyn, NY

This visiting exhibit of hundreds of Escher’s pieces came to Brooklyn in 2018. Looking at Escher’s work is already enough to take you out of a world where normal rules apply, but that was complemented by the integration of cameras that allowed you to step into his art, and rooms built to bend the space in interesting ways.

teamLab Borderless – Tokyo, Japan

This is a truly magical spot, partly due to how immense it is. An art museum that relies heavily on digital projection to cloak the space with color and moving graphics, 520 computers and 470 projectors are used to create these effects and each room has it’s own distinctive dream-like quality on display.