Quebec is reinventing how to visit its museums

Quebec is reinventing how to visit its museums

The National Museum of Fine Arts of Quebec and the Musée de la Civilization de Québec are shifting their exhibitions away from the “we enter, we look and we leave” format by integrating artificial intelligence, the olfactory experience and video games, among other technologies.

Therefore, it will soon be possible to chat with a robotic agent with artificial intelligence about the works you are viewing at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec.

The Minister in charge of Infrastructure and the Capitale-Nationale Region, Jonatan Julien, experienced this on Friday during a press conference to present to the media the fruits of the projects developed thanks to the Museum Innovation Incubator.

After simply scanning a QR code placed near the work he was looking at, Mr Julien was able to transmit his feelings about what he was seeing to his mobile phone, whereupon the robot responded by providing him with relevant information about it the painting was submitted by its artist.

“It is certain that looking at this work makes me miss summer,” the priest said into his phone before explaining what this work represented.

Currently only ten works benefit from this technological advance, but the goal is to implement it throughout the museum.

Also visit with your nose

Jean Paul Riopelle's work “L'Hommage à Rosa Luxembourg” at the National Museum of Fine Arts is accompanied by an olfactory experience signed by François Chartier, an internationally renowned sommelier and aroma specialist.

In an interview with Le Journal in 2023, Mr. Chartier mentioned that smell diffusers installed in the exhibition would remind us of the smells of ferns or many other less obvious smells such as life and death.

As for what was made available on Friday during the press conference about this project, we can say that Mr. Chartier hit the nail on the head. One of the smells presented was easily attributed to a fern or another type of vegetation, while others were more abstract but ironically familiar.

Video game technologies

The Musée de la Civilization de Québec, in turn, has relied on technological advances that we are used to when playing the video game Assassin's Creed but are less common in museums.

By integrating video game engines into exhibitions such as the one currently being prepared on the history of Quebec, the team is able to generate graphics in real time, such as the movement of leaves in the trees or a broadside of snow.

The same principle, but on the auditory side, applies in the exhibition “On Lyrics”. The sound of Queb rap, where what the visitor hears through their headphones is automatically adapted to their location.

In 2020, the Secrétariat à la Capitale-Nationale approved an amount of US$2.9 million for the Museum Innovation Incubator project.