How to Create Compelling Experiences Inside and Outside Galleries

Art has no borders - with digital, artwork becomes global. This turns art into a key element of destination marketing.

The V&A Museum is a champion when it comes to the use of technology to provide new perspectives and new ways of experiencing art. In this case study, we look at the role technology can play to renew the exhibitions experience.

The V&A Museum is a champion when it comes to the use of technology to provide new perspectives and new ways of experiencing art. In this case study, we look at the role technology can play to renew the exhibitions experience.


In 2021, the Museum launched an exhibition that examines the impact and legacy of Alice's books by Lewis Carroll. Since one of the objectives was to bring Wonderland to life, VR was chosen as the best tool to provide that - an interactive Wonderland.


Created in partnership with HTC Vive Arts (which combines HTC's virtual reality software and expertise with artists and cultural institutions) and PRELOADED (an immersive games studio), the V&A Museum created “ Curious Alice: The VR Experience” so that people can experience what it is like to be Alice. 


The experience focuses on the chapter on the croquet garden, which is actually inspired by the V&A garden, which makes it even more place-related. We believe this relationship between place and story strengthens the whole experience value.


What is even more remarkable to us is that this interactive experience gives people a sense of agency and a feeling like they are there, something that couldn’t be offered without any technology.



At-Home VR Experience


Considering the success and the global demand for these experiences, The V&A Museum decided to offer a Wonderland at-home VR Experience. This version allows people to meet some of the other characters from the story - in practice, there are 2 additional chapters.


In total there are 3 scenes, besides the initial 'tumble down the rabbit hole' and the main menu area. This includes a race against the clock to capture the White Rabbit’s missing glove and a challenge to solve Caterpillar’s mind-bending riddles.


The developers have succeeded in maximising the potential of VR storytelling and interactivity by exploring the topics of identity, curiosity and transformation that the story conveys.


The power of illustrations was also key to enabling this interactive Wonderland - all the environments and objects are based on the amazing illustrations by Kristjana Williams. She “blends traditional Victorian engravings with digital collage techniques to create playful landscapes full of hidden details.”


All objects were created in 3D and the textures from the illustrations created real authenticity - a complex but necessary job to make it all work. Even if the exhibition is not at V&A Museum anymore, it is available on all the major VR platforms, including VIVEPORT at a cost of £4. This is one of the greatest advantages - digital art will live further.



Cross-Industry Collaboration


This incredible VR Experience was possible because a team of creative people worked together - from the Museum, PRELOADED and HTC. They put all their creative energy into something that works in the museum galleries but also in the virtual ones.


This demonstrates the power of collaborative work in the digital space. Without this, it wouldn’t be possible to create new and bold experiences, like this one in V&A Museum.


We believe this is a great example of the impact of joint forces on technology. It is hard for an attraction or museum to have all the tools necessary to reinvent experiences for visitors, but if cross-industry partnerships are prioritised, the results will speak for themselves, as happened in this case in V&A Museum.


It is also worth mentioning the potential of these VR experiences to allow the visitor to own the experience, to feel that he or she is in charge of it. This sense of control has a direct impact on visitor satisfaction.


Key Takeaways

  • Art has no borders - with digital, artwork becomes global. This turns art into a key element of destination marketing.

  • A collaborative approach enables creative, bold and unique experiences - creators, creatives and technology businesses should work together.

  • Interactive experiences give people a sense of agency and ownership of it and that is key to attracting visitors in such a competitive market.
Published on:
December 2022
About the contributor