Family travel: seven of the best new digital immersive experiences

Innovative tech is transforming galleries and museums into exciting, informative worlds.

Frameless Gallery

Photograph by Jordan Curtis Hughes
By Sarah Barrell
Published 12 Jan 2023, 12:02 GMT

For naturalists: BBC Earth Experience

Explore the seven unique continents, with David Attenborough as your guide, at The Daikin Centre, at London’s Earl’s Court. This new showcase of footage and music from the BBC Studios Natural History Unit television series Seven Worlds, One Planet includes extended scenes; a 360-degree audio visual journey through epic landscapes populated with mesmerising animals large and small. See fireflies putting on a spectacular light show in North America, snub-nosed monkeys huddling together to stay warm in Asia, and hungry hamsters fighting to keep their food in Europe. From £22 per child, £28.50 for adults. 

For budding historians: The History Whisperer, Liverpool 

St George’s Hall has seen it all, from Ringo Starr performances to homecomings for Liverpool and Everton football clubs. It’s now also home to Livie, the digital guide who takes visitors on an augmented reality tour of the building’s past — as both an opulent concert hall and site of notorious prison cells — complete with music from Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. Adult tickets £6, children £4.

For conspiracists: The Gunpowder Plot, London

A digitised Tom Felton (Harry Potter’s Draco Malfoy) stars as Guy Fawkes in this blend of VR, live action and digital trickery at the Tower of London vaults, with added smell, touch and sound effects. Pick a side and choose your fate in this 12A-rated romp through history. Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Adult tickets £40, children £30.

For astronomers: Jodrell Bank, Cheshire     

Discover humanity’s origins and ponder the universe’s big questions  at We Are Stars, an immersive animated show at Jodrell Bank, home to the space race-era Lovell Telescope and the new First Light Pavilion. The £21.5m grass-roofed domed structure opened in summer 2022, complete with interactive exhibitions on the history of the Lovell Telescope and an awe-inspiring planetarium. Adult tickets £12, children £8.

For palaeontologists: Jurassic World: The Exhibition, San Diego, Cologne and Tokyo

Peer into a velociraptor training pen and encounter such beasties as T-rex herself, alive with nerve-shaking animatronics. Digital boards detailing ammonites and cycads place the creatures in their natural context, and there’s a laboratory where dinosaur eggs can be X-rayed. Adult tickets from £26, children £18.50.

The Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank, Cheshire.

The Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank, Cheshire.

Photograph by Anthony Holloway

Three to try: art experiences

1. Frameless: Step into digital masterpieces by the likes of Mondrian and Klimt, projected around you at a newly redeveloped space in London’s West End.

2. Atelier des Lumières: The pioneering Paris studio is currently ablaze with the colour-soaked works of Chagall and Paul Klee.

3. Monet Immersive: Join the waitlist for this digital art extravaganza, set to launch imminently in so-far-secret locations in Bristol, London and across the US.

Published in the Jan/Feb 2023 issue of  National Geographic Traveller (UK) 

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