Which UK historical sites offer augmented reality tours?

The museum experience is evolving. Gone are the days of static displays and printed guides. Instead, museums and historical sites are turning to technology to enhance their offerings, and the United Kingdom is leading the way. Through the use of augmented reality apps, museums are providing a dynamic, interactive, and immersive experience that both educates and entertains.

Augmented reality (AR) might sound like a term straight out of a science fiction novel, but it has already become a part of our everyday life. These experiences, created with the latest technology, use a smartphone or a tablet to overlay digital information - images, sounds, videos - onto the real world, enhancing what people see, hear and feel.

Augmented Reality - A New Way to Experience History

The first step in the AR journey is typically downloading an app, often available free of charge. Once the app is installed on your device, it uses the camera and sensors to establish your location and orientation. As you move around the museum or historical site, the app overlays the camera's image with additional layers of digital content. This data can take many forms, from 3D models and animations to audio commentary and historical context.

Major museums in the UK have started to use AR to make their exhibitions more interactive. The British Museum, for example, has an AR app that provides a 3D tour of its exhibition rooms, with the ability to zoom in on specific artefacts and learn more about them. Similarly, the V&A Museum uses AR to bring its fashion exhibition to life, allowing visitors to see vintage clothing models in full 3D, complete with additional details about the design and historical context.

Augmented Reality Enriches Art Exhibitions

Art museums are also adopting augmented reality as a way to enhance their exhibitions. The Tate Modern, for example, has an AR app that allows visitors to explore the museum's extensive collection of modern art in a new and exciting way. The app offers interactive tours, artist interviews, and augmented reality experiences that bring the art to life.

AR technology allows people to interact with the art in ways that were not previously possible. For example, by pointing their device at a painting, visitors can see an augmented reality overlay that provides additional information about the artwork, such as the artist’s inspiration or the historical context of the piece. It's like having a personal tour guide at your fingertips.

Historical Sites & Augmented Reality

Beyond art and history museums, many historical sites across the UK have embraced augmented reality. One notable example is the Stonehenge AR app, which provides a fully immersive experience of the famous prehistoric monument. The app uses advanced AR technology to overlay a virtual reconstruction of the site, complete with animated sprites that represent the people who created and used the site thousands of years ago.

Another historical site embracing AR is the Tower of London, one of the UK’s most iconic landmarks. Through the use of a specially designed app, visitors can experience the rich history of the Tower, from its construction in the 11th century to its many uses throughout the centuries.

Bridging the Gap Between Reality and Virtual

Augmented reality might seem like a big leap from traditional museum experiences, but it is actually a logical progression. Museums have always strived to educate and engage their visitors, and augmented reality is a powerful tool that can help achieve this goal. By overlaying digital content onto the real world, AR provides a layer of interactivity and engagement that is not possible with traditional displays.

AR also offers the potential to make museums more accessible. For people who cannot physically visit a museum, an augmented reality app can provide a virtual tour. This opens up opportunities for people who are physically disabled, live in remote areas, or simply can't afford the time or money to travel.

In conclusion, augmented reality is transforming the museum industry, providing new ways for people to engage with art, history, and culture. Whether you are a history buff, an art lover, or simply curious about the past, augmented reality offers a new and exciting way to explore the UK's rich heritage. So next time you are planning a visit to a museum or historical site, why not check if they offer an AR experience? It might just bring history to life in a way you never thought possible.

Augmented Reality in Historic Cities

A city's history can be found in its architecture, landmarks, and even in its streets. But it often takes a knowledgeable guide to bring these elements to life. Enter augmented reality. By using AR, visitors can take a self-guided history tour of the city, breathing life into the static structures around them. This has been applied in many historic cities across the UK.

For example, the Roman Baths in Bath, England, have been brought to life using augmented reality. Visitors can download the free app onto their iOS or Android device, then use it to tour the ancient site. As they walk through the baths, the app overlays the camera view with a virtual reality reconstruction of how the baths would have looked in their prime during the Roman Empire.

Similarly, an AR app was developed for the historic city of York, allowing visitors to take a self-guided tour of the city. The app overlays the modern-day city with images and videos of its Roman, Viking, and medieval past, providing a unique way to explore the city's rich history.

Another significant implementation is in the historic city of Edinburgh. An AR app called "Edinburgh 101" gives users the ability to view historical sites like Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile through a new perspective. Sprites representing historical figures appear, offering snippets of information and narrating the history of these places.

The Future of Augmented Reality in Museums

With the rapid advancement of technology, the future seems limitless for augmented reality in museums, art galleries, and historical sites. The National Museum in Singapore, for instance, is developing an augmented reality app that will allow visitors to explore its collection in new and innovative ways. The tablet tours will enable visitors to interact with exhibit items, learn about their history, and even virtually handle delicate objects.

Furthermore, developers are working on making augmented reality more immersive by incorporating haptic feedback - touch-based sensations - into their apps. This could allow visitors to feel the texture of a sculpture or the weight of a historical artifact, adding another dimension to the augmented reality experience.

In the UK, collaborations between technology companies and historical sites could see a new wave of AR experiences. Imagine walking through a battlefield with a virtual reality reconstruction of the events played out in front of your eyes, or standing on the ramparts of a castle, watching a siege unfold.


Augmented reality is a powerful tool that is revolutionising the way we experience art and history. It not only brings the past to life but also makes learning more interactive and engaging. Whether it's exploring a national gallery, taking a history tour of a city, or visiting a national museum, AR provides a unique perspective that enhances the visitor's experience.

As technology continues to improve and become more accessible, we can expect to see more museums and historical sites offering augmented reality tours. These experiences, available in the palm of our hand via the app store, can transport us to different times and places, making history more tangible and relatable. So why not give it a try? Augmented reality might just be the key to unlocking a deeper appreciation for our shared heritage and understanding of history.