Technology

British Museum offers virtual reality tour of Bronze Age

Image copyright British Museum
Image caption The British Museum is embracing virtual reality for the first time

The British Museum is running a trial of virtual reality technology with a view to offering it as a permanent tool to explore its collection.

Families will be invited to navigate a virtual reality Bronze Age roundhouse and interact with 3D scans of objects.

In June, London's Natural History Museum also started using VR technology.

Both museums are using Samsung Gear VR headsets.

Only visitors aged 13 or over will be allowed to use the headsets in the British Museum. Families with younger children can use a Samsung Galaxy tablet or enter a dome with an interactive screen.

Image copyright Natural History Musem
Image caption The Natural History Museum offers visitors a view of creatures at the dawn of life on Earth

Visitors will be able to explore different interpretations of how the objects might have been used in the past. Among those on display will be two gold bracelets, discovered at a site in Gloucestershire, and treasures that the museum has not yet acquired.

Other objects include a bronze dagger that was not intended for practical use because the blade was never sharpened and a bronze loop - believed to be a bracelet.

Chris Michaels, head of digital and publishing at the British Museum, said: "It gives us the chance to create an amazing new context for objects in our collection, exploring new interpretations for our Bronze Age objects."

The technology will be on show at a virtual reality weekend from 8 to 9 August but in the autumn it will be integrated into the museum's education programme. It will be assessed to see how it is enhancing the way students learn about the Bronze Age.

The First Life exhibit at London's Natural History Museum has been using virtual reality since June to allow visitors to experience an underwater environment at the dawn of life on Earth.

Emily Smith, Head of Audience Development at the Natural History Museum, told the BBC: "The VR experience has been hugely popular with visitors.

"We've increased the number of slots and are now running the experience daily in response to demand. Visitors have even been bursting into spontaneous applause at the end of the showings."

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