The Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft, recently acquired by the Science Museum in London
The Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft, recently acquired by the Science Museum in London

It’s virtually another world!

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Later this month visitors to London’s Science Museum will be able to enjoy a once in a lifetime trip on the iconic Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft.

To coincide with the museum’s landmark acquisition of the real thing, Alchemy VR have created a unique virtual reality experience, transporting viewers from the International Space Station to the steppes of Kazakhstan. The 12-minute, 360-degree journey will simulate what it’s like to descend from space alongside ESA astronaut Tim Peake, travelling at speeds of over 27,000kph, in temperatures of around 1600 degrees celsius. The Science Museum’s director, Ian Blatchford, said: “It’s an honour to unveil Soyuz TMA-19M today and extend the space fever sparked all around the nation by Tim Peake’s Principia mission. We’re thrilled to be marking this landmark acquisition for the Science Museum Group by collaboration with one of the world’s leading Virtual Reality studios on a dramatic and immersive 360 3D experience for our visitors.” To find out more about the experience, please visit the Science Museum’s website.

This is not the first time Alchemy VR, the company behind the technology, have introduced new reality experiences to museum visitors. Back in 2015, they brought The Great Barrier Reef to the Natural History Museum, in a collaborative film with David Attenborough.

Virtual reality experiences are becoming a popular attraction in museums and galleries, allowing visitors a new way to engage with, and learn from, existing collections. As younger generations are growing up in an increasingly digital world, it is seen as a good way to keep children and young people interested. As an adaptable technology, it can engage with museum objects of all kinds and simulate relevant virtual realities from any part of the world or period in history. Most recently, it has been used at Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome, in Essex, both as Project Lanoe, a WW1-flight simulator, and as part of their monthly kids club for 8-14 year olds. Used alongside paper planes and plastic gliders, it provides an exciting opportunity for young people to further explore the theme of ‘flight.’ More details about the sessions can be found here.

Augmented reality, which uses similar technology to blend virtual realities with real settings, has also recently formed the basis of the new Gruffalo app, released in partnership with The Forestry Commission. Users can follow clues along 26 interactive trails, in forests from Cornwall to Northumberland, to catch the elusive character from Julia Donaldson’s beloved books. You can find out more about The Gruffalo Spotter here.

Is your museum doing something different to reach a young audience, or do you know one that is? If so, why not drop us an email at [email protected]. We’d love to hear from you!

Becky MacNaughton, News Editor

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