This pioneering project combines mixed reality technology with immersive theatre to create two separate groundbreaking exhibitions for visitors at the Natural History Museum and Science Museum in London. Multisensory and truly interactive worlds allow visitors to play detective roles, meeting and interacting with a cast of digital robots, automata, AI, fossils and even fearsome dinosaurs. 

Working with a consortium of world-leading partners from the fields of culture, entertainment and education, Sarner was engaged as the main contractor to design and build physical sets and install and programme audiovisual technologies that complement the visitors' experience using mixed reality headsets.

London, UK
- Creative and Technical Consultancy - Project Management - Sets, Scenics and Graphics - Lighting Design and Specification - Audio Design and Specification - Show Control Specification - Show Programming - Technical Installation and Commissioning

Client's brief

Reimagining the future of museum visitor experiences

This exciting Research & Development project was funded by Innovate UK, part of UKRI, to explore the potential of using emerging immersive technologies to engage ‘Audiences of the Future’. Visitors would get to experience multisensory worlds wearing AR headsets created by the US firm Magic Leap, one of the project partners. Immersed within the narrative, visitors would be able to react to digital characters and shape their own stories.

Mixed-reality technology offers boundless potential for bringing museums' dynamic collections to life like never before. Magic Leap's headsets however had never been trialled in a public visitor engagement setting. The project partners set out to break new ground and test the technology in a theatrical narrative setting within the constraints of the physical environment. The research aims to generate a deep understanding of how individual and group visitor experiences in mixed reality can be designed, evaluated and described to benefit the creative industries sector. 

Our solution

This groundbreaking project aims to reimagine how a trip to a museum will entertain and inform visitors in the future, while at the same time providing commercial touring and export opportunities. To test the innovative but untried Magic Leap technology, sampler versions of the experiences were first made available to visitors to intu shopping centres, before launch at the two London museums. Our team reconciled new technology and theatrical ambition with physical constraints, pushing the limits of what could be achieved with setworks in heritage buildings. The two resulting multisensory experiences are trailblazers that demonstrate how collections can be brought to life in fresh new ways.  They also articulate beautifully how science, storytelling, technology and imagination can combine to create immersive worlds that raise the experience bar higher – educating and entertaining a new generation of museum visitors.