Estonian Museum of Natural History

Metamorphosis of a museum


With our augmented reality platform, Estonian Museum of Natural History became the pioneer in exhibition innovation in Estonia.






User Research, Product Design, iOS development, Android development

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Our role

  • UX research, product design and development
  • Web-based real-time content management
  • Mobile-based augmented reality apps
  • 3D model design and optimisation

Challenges in today's museums

During our research, we discovered that challenges in the Estonian Museum of Natural History are familiar to other museums all over the world

  • How to engage the visitors better?
  • How to show more in limited space?
  • How to increase the amount of new and returning visitors?

Keeping that in mind, we created a platform, which is suitable for any museums, from art to science.

Engagement and learning

The first-hand experience is one of the most powerful ways to learn. Augmented reality allows people to experience just about anything imaginable. It can empower empathy by enabling visitors to see animals or plants in their natural habitat, or it can bring history to life in the room around them.

A museum without walls

With augmented reality, museums can create an experience that transcends physical space and distances. It allows to add another layer of content into existing rooms or outside of it, to streets, schools and visitors' homes.

Know your audience

The key to creating an everlasting museum experience is to have a self-service tool. It enables to manage the augmented reality content by the museum employees and can measure the engagement of each exhibition. Via analytics, the museum sees audience demographics, visiting patterns, behaviours, trends, and accessibility.

Simple exhibition set-up

First, take a photo of the exhibit you want to use as a trigger and upload it to the World Engine editor. Next, upload the 3D model you wish the visitors to see when the particular exhibit is visible via the World Engine mobile app. In the editor, you can adjust the 3D model's size and position, relative to the exhibition. And finally, with a single click, it automatically becomes available for visitors to discover.

Cost and time efficiency

The solution was developed to increase time and cost-effectiveness for the museum. Our World Engine platform has a self-service content editor. It enables the museum personnel easily add or remove the 3D models, and therefore, give a new look and value to the exhibition that usually stays the same for years.

Things we learned

We learned how important it is for institutions such as museums, to step out of their comfort zone and work together with the endless possibilities that technology has to offer.

The engagement museum employees witnessed among the older visitors was also spectacular. We've seen molehills, but never network of tunnels beneath it and chance to see an actual mole build and navigate in them. And no, the illustration of the mole king from Thumbelina's fairy tale book does not count. For the employees' surprise, they saw grown men on the museum floor, absolutely fascinated by what they discovered when searching for a mole in the tunnel.

Augmented reality successfully attracted the visitors to examine exhibits, which previously did not gain much attention. For a child, a fossil was just a stone with an insect print on it. For a palaeontologist, a fascinating extinct arthropod that lived 500 million years ago. We managed to turn the rock to a lifelike prehistoric organism.

Using the World Engine platform in print media and outdoor advertising campaigns increased about 30% of the visitors, according to the fact that they had downloaded the app before entering the museum. A cleverly made marketing campaign allowed people to experience museum exhibition using augmented reality when reading the newspapers, discovering Tallinn or while waiting for the bus.

Give it a try yourself

1. Download the World Engine application

2. Print and cut out the three example use cases from here

3. Open the World Engine application and point your phone towards one of the cut-out examples

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