Subscribe

Search Museum Next

How one Museum is expanding their digital footprint with a Metaverse approach

A statue of a camel at the entrance to the Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture, and Design

Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture, and Design

You may have heard buzzwords like “Metaverse” and “Web3” but what does the future of digital experiences mean for museums and galleries?

The Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture, and Design in Hawaii have an interesting interpretation and approach to the Metaverse. Instead of imagining how they can create a physical gallery space online, they are looking at how they can increase the museum’s digital footprint.

As Konrad Ng, Kristin Remington and Giovonni Parks of the Shangri La Museum explained at the MuseumNext Digital Summit, their approach offers a digital solution to the museum’s physical limitations.

How does the Metaverse approach help museums

The Metaverse and all other kinds of digital projects are undertaken without any expectations. The expectation is not that they will be adopted in the long-term or achieve widespread success. A Metaverse approach is about experimentation. This allows greater agility and the ability to abandon projects when they no longer give results. Metaverse projects are designed to be time-limited, and restarting regularly is part of the process.

Digital native content

The first pillar of the Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture, and Design’s strategy is to create digital native content. This means they are looking at how they can engage audiences on each digital platform instead of simply finding ways to digitise their collection.

@hi_shangrila Modeled after the 17th century Chehel Sutun Palace in Isfahan, Iran (1598 to 1722 CE), Shangri La’s “Playhouse” was built in 1938.It was a recreational space during Doris Duke’s lifetime. Today, the Playhouse holds educational programs and events. #shangrilahawaii #islamicartwork #museum #hawaii #fyp #shangrila #museumofart ♬ sonido original – Ale_Stradlin1985


For example, TikTok is a short-form video content platform that rewards humour and whimsy. The Shangri La have used editing skills to gamify how they talk about art and the museum in order to appeal to audiences. Twitter is a platform for conversation and debate, so it is more suited to discussing art and the work the museum is doing.

By creating content that fits with the spirit and overall use of each platform, the content performs better, and the Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture, and Design can expand its reach.

Open-source model

The Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture, and Design is taking an open-source model approach to its learning. It seeks to engage a global audience and, where possible, they want to involve the audience in projects.

A great example of this is their collaboration with university students studying Islamic Art. They partner with universities and ask students to find an under-edited Wikipedia article on Islamic art, research the topic, and update the entry. The entries are all published at once and the students share their experience on Twitter.

In addition to improving the accessibility of accurate information about Islamic art and allowing students to impact the understanding of Islamic art, they curate a discussion about Islamic art on Twitter.

Human-centred connections

This is not just a customer generation strategy. To the Shangri La Museum the Metaverse is an opportunity to learn the language of their audience. They are joining their audience’s conversation and involving them in the success of the museum.

The Shangri La’s Metaverse strategy is all about looking to the future and embracing uncertainty and experimentation. Being open-source and participating in the conversations its audience is having a positive effect in many other areas of the museum. They are beginning to rethink museum concepts within a digital framework and vice versa. By conversing in the native language of digital platforms, they are beginning to think about how to present Islamic art in a more engaging way.

Konrad Ng, Kristin Remington and Giovonni Parks of the Shangri La Museum spoke at the MuseumNext Digital Summit in June 2022. To find out more about this event and how you can watch the talks on-demand click here.

Related Content

Museum Thought Leaders Urge One-to-One Action to Support Ukraine’s Museums

Renowned museum thought leaders Elaine Heumann Gurian and Linda Norris have called upon the museum world to support Ukrainian institutions and those who work in...

How to Reduce your Museum’s Carbon Footprint

The day I took those Friends of the Earth leaflets into school, filled with concern over pollution and environmental destruction, is still etched on my...

Design Museum Environmental Audit Reveals Exhibition Carbon Footprint

A sustainability assessment was commissioned by the Design Museum’s for its latest exhibition and was found to have a surprisingly sizeable carbon footprint of ten...

Subscribe to the latest museum thinking

Fresh ideas from museums around the globe in your inbox each week