ArtSpace Virtual Exhibition Platform
VR Exhibition as an Engaging and Educational Experience
Product/UX Design | 02 2021 - 05 2021
ArtSpace is a virtual exhibition platform for people to easily access and enjoy immersive art experiences without the limitations of space and time. It utilizes the opportunities of VR space to create engaging atmospheres for a better presentation of artworks.
Improved from most online museum exhibitions, ArtSpace designed to focus more on the audience's end-to-end exhibition journey and the learning aspect from exhibitions, through seamless onboarding experience, smooth exhibition guidance, and explorable background knowledge. Besides that, it also proposes a set of handy tools that can facilitate people's exhibition experience and help capture their favorite moments.
UX & UI design
Sketch - UX/UI Design
Unity - VR Prototyping
Maya - 3D Modeling
Substance Painter - Texture
Problems & Needs
∎ The public audience need a way to enjoy exhibitions remotely
When the pandemic forced the museums and galleries to shut down, people's interest in online exhibitions soars like never before. Even after the pandemic, being able to enjoy an exhibition remotely can free museums from the limit of time and space. With online exhibitions, people from all over the world can join the experience at any time.
∎ Museums need a more engaging presentation of their digital archives
Traditional online exhibitions utilize static web pages, on which there are videos, images, and text about the exhibition. This provides an easy way to join and share but had a very limited embodiment and immersion, and it is also not suitable for artworks like large-scale sculptures and environmental installations.
∎ Communities need a better form of distance learning
During learning, active observation and exploration are more effective than passively watching videos or listening to lectures. Field trips used to be a good way of letting students see, listen, touch, and feel about what they are learning to get a better understanding. A virtual museum tour is a great way for active learning in distance.
Screen captures from the website of the Design Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, and Artland
∎ Current virtual exhibitions have a limited focus on audiences' experience
In recent years, museums started utilizing 3D exhibition models. For example, the Design Museum in London, the Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, the online art platform Artland are using 3D scanning tools (Matterport) to capture a physical copy of the real exhibition space. This is an efficient way of building a virtual experience. However, the actual experience is sometimes impaired by the little guidance, hard-to-read background knowledge, and ordinary scenes. To provide a more engaging and enlightening virtual exhibition, we need to focus more on the audience's experience and the needs of all stakeholders.
∎ Audience: End-user interview
I had phone interviews with five people from different backgrounds who have regular visits to museums and art exhibitions.
Learned about the habit and past experiences of exhibitions
Found out different criteria of a good exhibition
Understood attitudes toward online virtual exhibitions
The way artworks are organized and presented is a key factor for good exhibitions.
Background introductions, concepts of the artists, different perspectives
Storytelling and narratives
Educational, thought-provoking, or emotionally resonated
A journey that can provide different experiences from daily life
Medium and materiality of the works are important
A variety of mediums (installations, models, and videos)
Show original artwork
More interactive works
Intuitive, immersive, and smooth experience for virtual exhibitions
Mobile screens are too small
The at-home atmosphere is difficult for audiences to pay attention
New media artworks are very suitable
User Experience Journey
∎ Less friction & End-to-end
Before exhibition: Setup and join easily
During exhibition: Get intuitive guidance, abundant background knowledge, and an engaging atmosphere.
After exhibition: Collect artworks, Save & share photos and videos
User journey sketch
1. Main Interface (Platform)
Easily find exhibitions that you are interested in
Save your loved artworks
Capture your highlighted moments and share them with friends and family
∎ A few design decisions over the interface and interactions
Main Interface prototype
2. Experience During an Exhibition (Journey)
A customizable immersive spatial environment that can enhance the presentation of different artworks. (Here I am using Mark Rothko's paintings as an example. The chapel atmosphere enhances its sublime feeling.)
Intuitive guidance to help the audience better understand the works.
Explorable further reading that shows the connection of the work with the artists, history, and cultural background.
Utilize voice reader to improve the reading experience in VR
Exhibition Experience flow (👉 Scroll right to view more)
Explorable further reading
3. Hand Menu (Interface)
It affords the functionality of an exhibition brochure and your mobile device. You can quickly access the hands-on tools without bringing up a heavy interface and breaking your journey.
Hand Menu prototype
ArtSpace is my side project at the beginning of the year 2021 during this time most public museums and galleries are closed. Exhibitions and conferences are held virtually. However, with this digital transformation, global resources and international events become more accessible to us. Virtual exhibitions and events will eventually be a new normal. Being part of that, I utilize this project to study and improve the current approach of online exhibitions and propose a more complete system design that focuses on the audience's end-to-end experience and the learning aspects from exhibitions. As a result, a set of interface design, experience flow, and hand menu tools were designed and prototyped.
∎ Future Consideration
Due to the limit of scope, this project hasn't focused on the sociability of VR exhibitions. However, social can be an important part for example during an exhibition opening, etc. We can also invite our friends and go to virtual exhibitions together.
Real-world objects with a physical presence always have a stronger connection with us. It's interesting to think of how virtual artworks can be presented in the real world. For example, the NFT artworks that you collected online.