Day 6

Is virtual reality the best way to get inside the history books?

The Canadian Museum of Science and Technology in Ottawa is working on a virtual reality exhibit that allows you to be in the driver's seat of a 1936 steam locomotive. But while supporters say VR is the way of the future for museums everywhere, others worry it risks turning museums into glorified arcades. CBC Producer Christine Maki decided to try the simulation out for herself.
Supporters say virtual reality goggles can be a great educational tool. (Tiffany Cassidy/CBC)
Listen7:37

Now that the school year is over, science centres and museums across Canada are bracing for an influx of noisy kids. Museums are typically thought of as quiet places where we can contemplate our history — but increasingly, they're looking for innovative ways to make the past come alive for their visitors.

Virtual reality is increasingly being incorporated into museum exhibits around the world. (Edgar Su/Reuters)


These days, science centres and museums are  starting to experiment with the use of virtual reality in their exhibits.
Producer Christine Maki takes the Canadian Museum of Science and Technology's new virtual reality simulation for a spin. (Christine Maki / CBC)

Not everyone supports that development. Critics have expressed concern that flashy VR displays could turn museums into glorified arcades. But supporters say virtual reality is an innovative learning tool that's here to stay.

The Canadian Museum of Science and Technology in Ottawa is in the latter camp. They're currently developing a virtual reality exhibit that allows you to be in the driver's seat of a 1936 steam locomotive — while the train is in motion.

Some argue that the use of virtual reality in museums could represent a form of "technology creep." (Martin Meissner/AP)

Producer Christine Maki wanted to experience virtual reality in museums firsthand, so she decided to test out the locomotive simulation for herself.

Listen to our Day 6 documentary for a firsthand look at how virtual reality is being incorporated into museums.