Website created in partnership with the Google Cultural Institute features 360-degree videos of exhibits held all over the world, including the Giraffatitan skeleton held by the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin, Germany

Natural History Museum brings dinosaurs to life with 360-degree video

Nicola Sullivan, 13.09.2016
Website launch follows extensive digitisation project
The Natural History Museum (NHM) in London has launched an online exhibition comprising 300,000 specimens from its collection and immersive 360-degree videos in which the exhibits come to life.

The website, which went live today, is the result of a partnership with the Google Cultural Institute and follows extensive work to digitise the museum's collections, as covered in the current edition of Museum Practice.

Street View technology means visitors can virtually walk through the museums halls and galleries, including Hintze Hall and the Treasures Gallery. They can also look through nine virtual exhibitions and  a 300,000-strong collection of digital specimens. Among the items that can be viewed online are: the first T-Rex fossil ever found, extinct mammoths and a narwhal skull.

An interactive timeline tells a story of natural history discovery that brings together more than 80m specimens spanning from the beginning of life on earth – dinosaurs, birds, insects and early humans.  

The 360-degree videos can be viewed through Google Cardboard headsets and are set in a number of locations. These include the museum’s Fossil Marine Reptile hall, where the Rhomaleosaurus – a sea dragon discovered in Dorset – comes back to life.

The images, which show the texture of its skin and the movement of its muscles, have been created with the help of the museum’s scientists, who were able to provide an insight into how the animals lived and what it might have been like to live alongside them.

Michael Dixon, the director of the Natural History Museum, said: “We want to challenge as many people as possible to think differently about the natural world, because now more than ever, understanding our past and present can help us shape the future.”

Anit Sood, the director of the Google Cultural Institute, said: “Technology can be used not only to make museums’ treasures accessible to people around the world, but also to create new experiences for museum goers.”

The online experience also features digital exhibits and street tours from natural history institutions all over the world.