22 December 2022

National Museum transports audiences to the Antarctica and beyond

| Evelyn Karatzas
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National Museum space promotion image

Explore the Milky Way at the National Museum of Australia through its new VR experience from this Boxing Day. Photo: Pete Wheeler, White Spark Pictures Pty Ltd.

Ever wanted to dive deep into space and explore the Milky Way? Or visit the cool continent of Antarctica?

A new virtual reality (VR) experience is launching at the National Museum of Australia this summer to transport you beyond the solar system and explore some of the planet’s great wonders.

Opening Boxing Day (Monday 26 December), this new addition to the museum invites visitors to put on a VR headset and enjoy one of two virtual reality cinema screenings: Beyond the Milky Way or The Antarctica Experience by acclaimed filmmaker Briege Whitehead and her innovative company, White Spark Pictures.

With a run time of about 30 minutes each, visitors will immerse themselves in the remarkable sights of each VR film with 360-degree vision and theatrical surround sound.

Ms Whitehead said she was thrilled to bring The Antarctica Experience back to the National Museum, and welcome her new east coast film premiere, Beyond the Milky Way.

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“Visitors will be swiftly transported onto Wajarri Yamaji country in the remote Australian outback where we hope to uncover the secrets of the universe through the future SKA project, the world’s largest radio telescopes,” Ms Whitehead said.

“With our immersive VR films, we are passionate about giving people unique and memorable experiences by taking them to places that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to visit.”

Beyond the Milky Way is narrated by astrophysicist and well-known TV presenter, Professor Brian Cox.

telescopes at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory

The Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory features in Beyond the Milky Way. Photo: White Spark Pictures Pty Ltd.

Beyond the Milky Way will take its audience on a virtual tour of the CSIRO’s Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory in Western Australia, Inyarrimanha Ilgari Bundara.

They will see some of the world’s largest telescopes, including where the SKA-Low (Square Kilometre Array) telescope is being constructed, hear from astronomers who will use the telescope, and meet the Warajarri Yamaji people who’ve been observing the stars for tens of thousands of years.

The White Spark Pictures film team was also granted exclusive access to the observatory which can be seen in the film through 360-degree cameras, drones and timelapse rigs.

penguins on an ice cap

You’ll see the Adélie penguins resting on an iceberg floating off Magnetic Island in The Antarctica Experience. Photo: White Spark Pictures Pty Ltd.

The Antarctica Experience is all about transporting you to the coldest place on earth.

Audiences will experience life as a scientist, go on an expedition through icy waters, see secluded bays and gain exclusive behind-the-scenes access to one of Australia’s permanent research stations in Antarctica.

They will also get to explore Antarctica’s penguins, witness the bright colours of the Southern Lights, and soar over frozen landscapes in a helicopter and land on remote glaciers.

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National Museum assistant director Ruth Wilson said she was delighted to bring these unique virtual reality experiences to the nation’s capital.

“The museum has a well-earned reputation for embracing new technology and providing innovative ways for our visitors to experience Australian stories,” Ms Wilson said.

“Virtual reality provides an exclusive opportunity to explore remote regions of the earth and space difficult to access for the average person.”

Ms Wilson said Beyond the Milky Way was a virtual reality cinema experience that “takes us to the edge of the universe” and there was no better way to experience the southernmost continent than through The Antarctica Experience documentary.

“The Antarctica Experience enables visitors to explore the mysterious continent and discover the amazing work of our Antarctic scientists,” she said.

To find out more and book your tickets for Beyond the Milky Way and The Antarctica Experience, visit the National Museum of Australia.

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Capital Retro5:13 pm 26 Dec 22

If virtual reality is introduced into a museum that institution no longer is a museum, by definition.

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