Abhishek Poddar, Trustee – MAP (Museum of Art & Photography), Bangalore, India

A few years ago we embarked on building the Museum of Art & Photography (MAP) in Bengaluru. The lead architect and designer – Soumitro Ghosh of Mathew & Ghosh – really took on the vision behind the museum and came up with ideas that brought all of it together into a beautiful space. The architectural design plans went through numerous rounds of iterations as projects tend to do. Today, the museum is set to open in the latter end of 2020. And while the rest of the museum team are busy forging ahead with plans for the exhibitions, events and the opening – we have also been focussing on developing a number of digital experiences.

To begin with, the teams from Xarpie Labs and MAP in collaboration created a Virtual Reality (VR) tour of MAP. It is now possible to experience a visit to MAP in VR from any location. Technology has enabled us and the architecture team to see the blueprints come to life and allowed us to validate the plans and address any potential architectural issues.  We have been able to ratify the placement of walls, sections and make corrections and adjustments at this stage itself, which has been financially beneficial to the organization. 

It has also helped the exhibition design team understand the space for galleries and shows, which has made their planning more efficient and thorough. 

The following two views serve as good examples of how VR visualization of architectural concepts helped make design decisions and structural alterations in some cases.

Library (Concept Renders)
Structural changes in mezzanine floor helped open up the library to more light and visibility.

Common Areas (Concept Renders)
Revisiting the stairwell design and walls aided flow of movement and opened up usable floor area.

We are excited to explore the role technology will play in the long term for museum visitors. India does not have a museum-going culture. We may queue up to visit museums abroad but we rarely visit the ones in our own cities. This has been primarily due to the fact that museums in India have some catching up to do in terms of bringing the museum experience into the 21st century. A key part of MAP’s objective is a focus on the use of digital and interactive technology to make art fun and engaging and to inform and inspire a new generation of people in the arts and cultural heritage. 

We have been experimenting and testing the use of VR with the aim of seeing how we can create immersive experiences for the MAP’s visitors and the results have been exciting and carry tremendous potential. 

Digital reality could allow for the viewer to literally ‘get into’ an artwork, get up close and personal to explore the artist’s technique, wander around a gallery and just in general take in more information than we can provide in the actual physical space. 

Technology serves the industry by giving people an experience of the museum without being there. Our outreach team will use it in malls, schools and tech parks to give people a teaser experience – and in the process, we hope, begin to change the perception of museums from dull, dark and boring places to one where history and culture come alive.