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Show HN: A map of the world's virtual museums(virtualmuseums.io)

107 pointsmektrik posted 2 months ago22 Comments
wenc said 2 months ago:

Thank you for creating this.

As a museum lover (I've visited ~ 170 around the world), I struggle with getting into virtual tours. I wonder if anyone else feels that virtual museum tours are so far from ideal that it isn't worthwhile investing the time to browse? I can't seem to get into them -- not because of trivial reasons like "oh it's not like the real thing", but more like no one's been able to produce the right UI for enjoying a museum. Even Google's Art and Culture indoor maps of museums is only good for 5 minutes of amusement and not worth bothering with again. I clicked on several links in the comments and was like, eh -- doesn't really hold my interest (though if I were physically at the museum I'd be spending hours).

I wonder if these are factors:

1) Lack of good photography. Most museums tend to be dark, so you need professional photographers who know how to work with low-light photography. Also most pictures/videos tend to be low res for some reason, which takes away from the enjoyment. I wonder if most museums are loath to make high-res photography available for free because it cannibalizes their admissions.

Google Arts and Culture has some high-res artwork, but the selection is extremely limited.

2) Unwieldy ways to move in space. Google indoor maps, which has a FPS (first person shooter) interface, isn't the most natural to navigate, because it doesn't match how people actually experience a museum. I wonder if instead of an FPS perspective, an adventure-game orthographic view might make more sense? It would let you walk around the museum and click on objects to interact with them. Also let's face it -- professional museum goers will tell you that they are extremely selective and don't interact with all exhibits, so a frictionless way to preview and skip exhibits is key.

3) Limited/non-comprehensive collection. Usually only the less interesting collections are online. (not always true, but generally true). This is likely due to the cost of putting entire collections online, and there not being a lot of payoff -- unless it was possible to create a UI good enough to support monetization.

4) Lack of a cohesive story. Because only select pieces are on display online, the experience is disjointed, vs browsing a physical section of the museum which groups like objects together. The best museum story I've ever come across was the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, which told a chronological story.

Does anyone know of any museum virtual tours that don't suffer from these issues?

tmilard said 2 months ago:

1) Not sure. I would say photos are usually quite ok.

2) Yes I agree: Those 360° photos are ok but the transition from one to the next is poor, even for google indoor-map as surprising as it sounds.

The only good 360° photo technology is by far matterport. https://matterport.com

3) I would think it is ofen marketing. To market their museum. Photos, 100 years ago did not kill the "presence" in museums.

Same for virtual visits... Nothing to worry about.

4) Yes, I also think an audio comment would add a lot. I wonder why no 360° visit does this...

Thierry https://free-visit.net

wenc said 2 months ago:

Thanks for your thoughts.

1) It depends on the site. It seems many are still quite low-res, not even as good as pictures taken on Instagram.

2) I wonder if 360° is the right approach. We typically don't need to experience the transition from exhibit to exhibit. We only need 360° around the exhibit. An adventure-game sprite may be good enough to move around the space and click on objects as needed.

3) Unless the virtual visits were actually good -- then part of the ticket sales might be affected. So the solution is to sell tickets for virtual tours (but they have to be really good)

4) Audio would be nice, just like the headset you can rent at many museums. What I meant though was more the grouping and sequence of the exhibits -- for instance when you walk through a special exhibit, the sequence tells the story. In virtual tours, because the collection is incompletely digitized, the story is broken.

nh2 said 2 months ago:

You may want to check out our startup, it focuses on smooth transitions from just panorama photos.


It works quite nicely for museums and supports hosting everything on your own server / offline if needed. If you want to make your museum virtual, let me know!

As this is HN, you may also enjoy that almost the entire stack, from computer vision pipeline to the WebGL website, is written by 3 people in Haskell.

mektrik said 2 months ago:

Hey folks, I’m the creator of virtualmuseums.io

I built it after seeing a bunch of articles listing virtual museums around the world. I felt like part of the point of touring these virtual museums was to capture just a tiny bit of the fun of travelling, but that this is lost when you just scroll through articles.

I thought that it’d be more fun to put all the museums on a map, and let you track your progress as you visit them, as this helps to recreate a tiny part of what’s fun about travelling.

Would love to hear your thoughts/suggestions :)

samizdis said 2 months ago:
mektrik said 2 months ago:


pvg said 2 months ago:

A little off the beaten path:


This is an archived copy of a Library of Congress online exhibit from around '93 or so. There's a shoutout marca@ncsa in there, etc. I think there's a very decent chance this was the first 'virtual museum/exhibit' type thing on the web.

severine said 2 months ago:

The submission form only lets me add one item until review, so here are some from Spain:

- Museo del Prado de Madrid:https://www.museodelprado.es/

Virtual tour: https://visitavirtual.info/museo-del-prado-de-madrid/

- Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza de Madrid: http://www.museothyssen.org/thyssen/home

Virtual tour: https://visitavirtual.info/museo-thyssen-bornemisza/

- Museo Arqueológico Nacional de Madrid: http://www.man.es/man/home.html

Virtual tour: https://visitavirtual.info/museo-arqueologico-nacional/

- Museo Dalí de Figueres: http://www.salvador-dali.org/museus/teatre-museu-dali/

Virtual tour: http://www.salvador-dali.org/media/visita-virtual-dali/figue...

- Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao: https://www.museobilbao.com/

Virtual tour: https://www.museobilbao.com/visita-virtual/anonimo_catalan.h...

- Museo del Traje (CIPE) de Madrid: http://museodeltraje.mcu.es/

Virtual tour: http://www.mcu.es/visitavirtualmuseos/museo-del-traje

- Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía: http://www.museoreinasofia.es/

Virtual collection: http://www.museoreinasofia.es/coleccion

- Museo Picaso de Málaga: http://www.museopicassomalaga.org/

Virtual tour: http://www.malagavirtual.com/mpicassom/visitans.htm

Great job!

Sources: https://sincopyright.com/museos-virtuales/

mektrik said 2 months ago:

This is incredible, thank you!

Also thanks for flagging the issue on the submission form, I've just fixed it :)

gregsadetsky said 2 months ago:

Congrats! Just submitted a number of Canadian museums.

mektrik said 2 months ago:

Thank you!

donarb said 2 months ago:

Note also that Google has an Arts and Culture site that has links to virtual museums around the world. They have lots of interesting content.


crehn said 2 months ago:

I wish the whole experience wasn’t so laggy (on 2020 iPad Pro).

tmilard said 2 months ago:

Honestly, calling all those (pretty good) visits "virtual visits" is a bit like calling a beer a strong drink.

Now I think this is more of a strong drink : https://free-visit.net/index.php/fr/demos

nicthesailor said 2 months ago:

Just playing with it now, and I love the idea.

Have you thought about adding the zoos and aquariums that are live-streaming their animals?

mektrik said 2 months ago:


Yeah I've definitely been tempted with adding more ideas like these. The one question I've struggled with, and would be super keen for your thoughts on, is whether it'd look okay to have them on the virtualmuseums.io domain, or whether you think it's worth starting again and trying to capture all the best 'virtual attractions' on a single map?

panoramas4good said 2 months ago:

We've got 1000's of virtual tours of mountains / rivers / reefs / etc. in our library. Drop me an email if you do decide to expand the content (https://www.trekview.org/contact)

nicthesailor said 2 months ago:

That's a really good question: where to stop.

Would it be possible to filter them by type? Put them all on the site, tag them, and let people choose to display particular tags or categories.

mektrik said 2 months ago:

100% possible! There's still the question of whether you'd put them on the existing site, or make a new (more general) site to host all the links on. Definitely keen for thoughts as I'm torn between the two

B1FF_PSUVM said 2 months ago:

There are Unix programs where a single executable answers to different names, and behaves accordingly (e.g. busybox works as ls or cat or ..., I think).

You could have a single site, with different names, where the filter is preset by the URL used.

ghaff said 2 months ago:

Personally, I think I'd keep them on the same site and have checkboxes on the left hand side that could be checked or unchecked for particular categories. (Sort of like how a lot of mapping software works.)