Immersive Storytelling Exhibit in a Museum

Is ‘Immersive Storytelling’ in Museums Inevitable?

Is 'immersive storytelling' in museums inevitable? It feels like it's no longer optional.

The long-covid for museums is that they struggle to achieve pre-pandemic attendance levels. American Alliance of Museums 2023 survey reveals that two-thirds of U.S. museums have not yet achieved their pre-pandemic visitor numbers, with attendance around 71%. This indicates a pressing need for museums to adapt and evolve to create a new visitor experience, changing consumer expectations and behaviors and improving attendance with museum exhibits that break boundaries.

However, immersive experiences and experiential exhibits are surpassing institutions in visitor numbers; even the ones that totally stink. Bland, storyless, surface-level projected experiences that lack an educational or transformational message are giving the rest of the immersive industry a bad rap and scaring well-established institutions away from dipping their toe into the projected pool.

Museums and cultural institutions are built to deliver knowledge and add context to our shared humanity, so what better source to develop deep, immersive stories?

Museums need to seize the opportunity to bring immersive storytelling and updated museum exhibits into their space and transform the passive visitor experience into active participation, education, and entertainment through immersion.

With museum visitation down and donors aging out, many institutions are cash-strapped and finding it hard to improve attendance. The good news is that producing "Immersive" experiential exhibits doesn't always require millions of dollars for projectors and content. Immersive storytelling can be contained in an intimate gallery, or built to be portable as a personalized digital experience, or engineered for reusability.

“Immersive experiences have the potential to contribute to the much-needed development of museums' public offerings. At the same time, museums, as often highly trusted institutions in society, building on a long tradition of knowledge—and experience-based mediation, have the potential to contribute to an exciting development of the format of immersive experiences” — Kajsa Hartig.