Making Sense of Immersion
a programme part of our research programme "Better Digital Future"
a collaboration with Museum Connections, Pixii Festival, French Immersion and Fabbula
The programme ‘The Lab: Making Sense of Immersion in 2021’ has been an online programme to create a safe space for dialogue, harvest collective knowledge and collaboratively solve industry challenges. Organized by We Are Museums, along with Museum Connections, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the US, Pixii Festival and Fabbula, it used the full potential of these international communities to gather key practitioners and visionaries of the industry.
Collectively solving industry-challenges
Gathering experts in a single (virtual) location has allowed us to harvest unique knowledge on how to produce, disseminate and present immersive works in museums. 
From November 2020 to January 2021, four online sessions welcomed 11 experts from the immersion industry working with museums to deep dive into a selection of case studies and unpack their practices, habits and advice.

These sessions were followed by collaborative problem-solving workshops with most of the key actors from the museum and immersion industry. To name only some of them we had people from The Louvre, the Met and the Smithsonian for the biggest museums, as well as Centre Phi, Artechouse, Superblue for the most innovative. Diversion Cinema, Marshmallow Laser Feast and Ikonospace joined us for the VR trailblazers and the Natural History Museum of Paris and MIT Center for Art for exploring new practices.

From these sessions, inspiring insights have been compiled and transformed into a handbook for museum practitioners and immersive experiences producers.
Unleash the full potential of an early-collaboration
One of the main questions from our participants has been how best to best balance with long-term planning in museums and the fast evolution of tech? The answer lies in the critical necessity to initiate collaboration early on in the production pipeline of an immersive project so the content fits the space, the narrative and the audience. Both sides should be aware of cultural differences and should be ready to adapt accordingly.
Let’s start by getting to know each other
Understanding and celebrating the skills and expertise of both cultural institutions and producers could smooth collaborations and speed up project production. For instance, museums shine when they have to dig into their collections, bringing scientific or historical content and context to immersive experiences. They shine also by curating and bringing artistic direction to an ensemble of artworks, setting up a transformative visitor journey and the scenography going with it. By creating different narratives they reach out to various audiences with the same story and find innovative ways to connect with their audiences even in time of lock-down. Artists and producers are mastering the technology, the latest ones or the ones you don’t know about yet, they are the go-to people when a museum wants to produce immersive experiences. They already work with a portfolio of projects and with a great diversity of partners, so agility and adaptability are part of their DNA. With their cross-industry perspective, their imagination is pushing the boundaries of visitor experiences.
Towards scalable and virtuous models
We also learnt that it is key to diversify the catalogue of creations and their formats, as well as the partners engaged, the models of production and business. Still following this logic of testing and adapting, our guests and participants advised thinking of different portals to get all visitors on board. The program also highlighted the need to try new ways to distribute VR experiences: create mind-blowing installations in cultural centres, but also in other places such as commercial centres or rent VR headsets for watching at home (like renting books in a library!).

Overall, our guests reminded us that the industry is still young and it is crucial to provide audiences with a positive experience when introducing them to VR. Our main goal for today is still to be evangelists for this new technology and inspire a new generation of visitors and artists.
Watch 6 case studies unpacked by museum and production studios
We invited 7 experts from the immersion industry working with museums to deep dive into a selection of case studies and unpack their practices, habits and advice. Our guests were: Chloé Jarry (Lucid Realities), Christiane Paul (Whitney Museum of American Art), Myriam Archard (Centre Phi), Mike Jones (Marshmallow Laser Feast), Camille Lopato (Diversion cinema), Sandro Kereselidze (ARTECHOUSE).
Each session was facilitated by Darragh Dandurand, a creative director, exhibition curator and independent journalist.
Want more?
We are making our collaborative handbook available to everyone following the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) Licence
Our partners
'The Lab: Making Sense of Immersion in 2021' is a collaboration between We Are Museums, Museum Connections, Pixii Festival, French Immersion and Fabbula.