A virtual reality experience recreates the extinct Rhomaleosaurus

A virtual reality experience recreates the prehistoric sea dragon, Rhomaleosaurus © Google Arts and Culture 

Collections come to life in Google Arts and Culture collaboration

Immersive online experiences are allowing Museum collections to be explored from anywhere in the world.

Virtual reality technology, giant photographs and 3D images will reveal the diversity of nature in new online experiences.

A partnership between the Museum and Google Arts and Culture uses more than 300,000 objects and specimens to tell the story of the natural world over billions of years.

Museum View (which uses the same technology as Indoor Street View) will also let visitors virtually walk through the Museum's halls and galleries.

A trip through time

Eleven virtual exhibitions and an interactive timeline will document a journey through time. It will span billions of years, from the beginnings of the solar system to modern-day scientific discoveries. 

Sir Michael Dixon, Director of the Natural History Museum, says, 'We want to challenge as many people as possible to think differently about the natural world. Now, more than ever, understanding our past and present can help us all shape the future. 

'Working with Google Arts and Culture helps us to inspire the next generation of scientists, and to uncover new scientific insights from the collection using digital technology. This is the first step in a great new journey of discovery.'


Gigapixel technology reveals the stunning architecture of the Museum, including the famous Waterhouse building.

A high-resolution photograph captures Hintze Hall's soaring ceiling, adorned with 162 illustrated panels.

The ceiling displays a vast array of plants from all over the world, but the details are too small for the average visitor to notice. The online view allows a close-up and thorough look at the historic interior.

Exploring Jurassic seas

Thanks to the latest video and VR technology, one of Museum's Jurassic giants can be explored in ways never seen before.

A 360 degree experience teleports online visitors from anywhere in the world to the Fossil Marine Reptiles gallery, where they can witness Rhomaleosaurus - an extinct sea dragon discovered in Dorset - coming back to life.

The virtual creature swims close enough for the viewer to see the texture of its skin and the movement of its muscles. The experience gives an account of how this animal lived and how it might have felt to live alongside it.

Teaching tools

Additional virtual reality 360 degree panoramas and 3D images create an educational experience tailored for teachers and students.

The resulting Google Expeditions, a teaching tool built with Google Cardboard, enables educators across the globe to bring students on virtual trips to the Museum.

Expeditions are annotated with details, points of interest, and discussion topics.

Amit Sood, Director of Google Arts and Culture, says, 'Technology can be used not only to make museum treasures accessible to people around the world, but also to create new experiences for museum-goers.'

Natural history institutions from 16 countries have created more than 150 new digital exhibitions, more than 30 virtual Street View tours through museums, and 20 new Google Expeditions.

Eric Schmidt, Chief Executive of Alphabet (the parent company of Google), was among those who gave a speech at the European launch, hosted by the Museum. He spoke of the value of the 'data vault' in natural history museums in solving global challenges.

Explore more

See the Museum's exhibitions on Google Arts and Culture, or download the new mobile app on iOS and Android.

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