How to use Google’s Arts & Culture app to look at AR museum exhibits

Google‘s Arts & Culture app really is a gem for anyone who loves the arts, science, and just cool AR and VR stuff. The company recently announced it was adding a few AR extras to its app, including models of ancient creatures, for everyone to peruse. Fun and educational — what more could you want?

If you need to entertain someone or maybe educate children — say, for example, because a global pandemic has closed their school (I know, wild, but roll with it) — then the app has a few resources to help keep their attention. One of our favorites is the built-in ARexhibits that essentially let you walk around museums without leaving your home. So how can you access it? Here’s how.

To start, enter the app (which you can find on the App Store and Google Play) and make sure you’re logged into your Google account. Then, when you enter the app, you can either search for the AR topic, or you can just search AR. It should bring you the same result: you’ll see the augmented reality options under “Themes” and the title “Reality Check.” Visiting the page will show you all of the options you have. You can look at animals, artifacts, or some classic art — the categories are pretty self-explanatory.

Select whichever you’re most interested in viewing, and from the object’s page tap “View in Augmented Reality.” The app will download the AR model, and you’ll be asked to move your camera around your space. Once you do, either the object will appear in the space, or you’ll be told to place it there. With the AR “museums,” you can place the entire museum on your floor, and then “enter” it to browse the art. Here’s a prehistoric creature looking for all the world like my most reluctant Pokémon.

It’s actually rather startling how well the AR objects can dovetail with the surrounding environment. With the AR art, you can “hang” it anywhere. Here I am getting way closer to the Mona Lisa than I ever would be permitted in real life. Screw interior decorating apps — this is how I intend to plan all my design in the future.

While you’re viewing the AR object, you can take pictures of it interacting with your environment, either for humor or just because it’s pretty cool to see precious Aztec statuary chilling in a suburban home.

And that’s it! That’s everything you need to know to enjoy Google’s AR projects in your own home. Good luck!