Next Article in Journal
Technologies Supporting Screening Oculomotor Problems: Challenges for Virtual Reality
Previous Article in Journal
Simulation Models for Suicide Prevention: A Survey of the State-of-the-Art
Font Type:
Arial Georgia Verdana
Font Size:
Aa Aa Aa
Line Spacing:
Column Width:

Mixed Cultural Visits or What COVID-19 Taught Us

Angeliki Antoniou
Department of Archival, Library & Information Studies, University of West Attica, 122 43 Egaleo, Greece
Computers 2023, 12(7), 133;
Submission received: 7 May 2023 / Revised: 19 June 2023 / Accepted: 27 June 2023 / Published: 29 June 2023


When the majority of museums and other cultural institutions were shut down due to the pandemic, mixed museum visits became a hot issue. After the pandemic, mixed visits, in the opinion of many experts, would become the new norm for experiencing cultural content. Diverse types of mergers between online and onsite visits have already begun to be investigated by researchers, with the purpose of not only avoiding the spread of disease but also of enabling visits of people who were previously excluded, such as persons in remote geographic areas or people with mobility challenges. In fact, over the last three years, there have been rapid developments in mixed visits in cultural heritage sites. The current work takes into account a contextual model of museum learning to define potential use scenarios for visits from people of different cultural backgrounds and offers an evaluation of current practices. The new model that emerges, the contextual model of mixed visits, allows for the further study of the field, as it attempts to describe recent research efforts in four main contexts: mixed visits in the personal context, mixed visits in the socio-cultural context, mixed visits in the physical context, and temporality of mixed visits. Inductive analysis of a literature review allowed the extraction of relevant themes, examples from museums, as well as extraction of guidelines.

1. COVID-19 and Beyond

With the outbreak of COVID-19, human life around the world has changed dramatically in all its aspects. From the beginning of 2020 and for several months after, most museums and cultural institutions were largely affected, and many had to remain closed for fear of the pandemic spreading further. Soon after the initial global shock, people began to look for solutions to the problem of social distancing and the necessary human isolation. Museums also responded to these new conditions and sought new ways to engage audiences from afar. Against this backdrop, many museums have improved their digital presence, updating their websites, polishing their social media accounts, and designing imaginative new advertising campaigns. One such campaign that has attracted attention is that of the Getty Challenge, which asked people to recreate Getty artworks with household objects [1]. The Getty campaign was launched as early as March 2020, just days after the pandemic outbreak, showing that museums responded quickly. During the pandemic, the Louvre in Paris also increased its social media presence, dynamically using Instagram and Facebook while also improving its website [2]. Many museums almost doubled their online presence and became very active on their websites and social media accounts [3]. It seems that social media has become a fast and effective way to connect people with museums and cultural content [4]. The changes have been so rapid and significant that many wonder what the future of museums will look like [5] and whether we are moving toward museums without walls [6].
The pandemic seemed to accelerate processes that have enabled museums and researchers to imagine new ways of engaging with cultural content and provided them an opportunity to rethink future forms of cultural visitation and visitor engagement. Among researchers and museums, the concept of hybrid visitation has become a hot topic and new solutions have been proposed. Although there has been research addressing hybrid museum visitation issues before the pandemic [7], this work seems to have increased significantly from 2020 onwards, in response to the new conditions created by the pandemic. The deprioritization of physicality and materiality has become the new condition for cultural visits [8]. The pandemic has allowed us to not only define hybrid visitation (as a form of visitation that takes place both online and onsite) [9], but also to deepen the field with studies that have begun collecting data on the effectiveness of hybrid museum visits [10]. The main question in this new form of museology, then, is how technology can support people in their cultural experience, independent of their physical presence in a cultural space. Researchers such as Løvlie et al. [11,12] have explored how different types of technology, such as games and virtual reality, might be used for this purpose.
Now, however, after three years of studying practices that mix physical and digital visitor presence, it can be observed that many terms are used interchangeably and misunderstandings have arisen from their use. The terms hybrid, mixed, online, etc., do not always refer to the same concepts, and for this reason further clarification is needed. Many of these terms have been introduced from the field of e-learning, which is older and more established, but there are differences in the way the terms are used in the field of education and in the field of cultural heritage. For example, the term hybrid in education implies that, during a course, some people participate online and some physically [13], while in museum literature the same term has been used to refer to the blending of physical and digital experiences [14]. To complicate matters further, in a paper by Passebois Ducros and Euzéby [15], the term hybrid refers to spaces that incorporate elements of both museums and amusement parks, without considering aspects of technology. It is hoped that this paper will help clarify the terminology and also provide concrete examples of how cultural institutions can use it. Technology-enabled visits (whether onsite, online, or both) are expected to increase, as they can provide access to populations previously excluded from cultural experiences (e.g., due to mobility issues, geographic factors, etc.). The pandemic has seemed to spur a field that was poised to expand.
The current work attempts to collect research and museum efforts during the pandemic and through inductive analysis to discover important patterns, themes and inter-relations. Starting from recent developments in cultural venues, such as museums and heritage sites, we present different ways in which the cultural heritage sector has reacted to the issues that have emerged from the spread of COVID-19 and have tried to find ways to engage people. For the inductive analysis, a highly influential theoretical model was altered and used to assist in the arrangement-structuring of the different works and their categorization in meaningful units. Thus, current relevant research was placed within the model. In this process, the research question to emerge was whether the model is still adequate for connecting new knowledge to existing knowledge and allow better understanding of the field. In addition, the model should be able to allow easy identification of research gaps and support future research endeavours. Therefore, the present work presents recent developments in mixed cultural visits in the field of technology-assisted cultural experiences while placing them in a theoretical model.

2. Three Years of Rapid Developments (2020–2023)

As explained above, museums and cultural institutions have had to employ creative uses of technology in order to react to the pandemic [16]. It is widely recognized that technology changes the nature of cultural experiences [17]. Visitor studies have also revealed the need for change and the subsequent use of technology as a way to increase multileveled equal access to cultural content [18].
Virtual tours have become a common way to visit a cultural space from home. It is, however, still unclear whether users are satisfied with such approaches [19]. Museums that opened after 2020 incorporated the blending of virtual and physical in their core. For example, the Kleio Museum Commons, from its opening in 2021, facilitated both physical and online interactions of students and academic staff [20].
From all of the developments of the last three years, researchers such as Simone et al. [21] have looked for ways to classify the different technologies used in cultural heritage. Thus, technology can have multiple uses in cultural heritage:
Behind-the-scenes uses where technology is mainly used for preservation and/or administrative purposes.
Technology that assists visitors during their visit in the museum environment, such as with mobile apps.
Tools that allow the online presence of a cultural institution and support the preparation and the continuation of visits beyond the museum walls.
Technologies that allow hybrid museum experiences where the physical and the digital unite.
COVID-19 has revealed that, additionally to physical and virtual spaces, a third type is also very important, that of hybrid spaces [22]. Many museums have transformed into hybrid spaces, and Atelier des Lumieres in Paris is a good example of a cultural space that has looked for new ways to engage its visitors in a hybrid experience [23]. Researchers such as Mason [24] use the term post-digital to describe the mixing of digital and physical, as an inseparable new way to experience culture. These new post-digital spaces allow different levels of interaction with technology. In this light, technology could be simply an app that provides extra content to technology that is embedded in the museum environment and even affects the architectural design of the physical space. According to Trunfio et al. [25] the field of hybrid reality is still under-investigated, although it seems that this will be the future of cultural visits. Other researchers differentiate between the term extended reality (a continuum from physical to virtual reality) and hybrid virtual and augmented reality (which focuses on the way people from different realities interact) [26]. Similarly, mixed reality is also different from hybrid reality, despite common elements, as they are perceived as different by the visitors [27,28].
Despite all of the differences between researchers and the different ways to use concepts and technologies, one thing is already clear, the fact that new methodologies to engage visitors and new pedagogies are necessary. Museums such as the Fitzwilliam explicitly employed creative pedagogies while the museum remained physically closed during lockdown, realizing that traditional approaches would not be efficient under the new circumstances and the extensive use of technology that these circumstances incurred [29]. For the purposes of our work, the term mixed visits will be used (which is different from mixed reality) in order to function as an umbrella term and include all technology-assisted cultural visits.

3. Using the Contextual Model for Museum Visits

We will draw on the highly influential work of Falk and Dierking [30,31], which analyses the processes occurring during a cultural visit to distinguish between concepts and practices. Due to the validity of their suggested model, it has been widely adopted and used over time [32]. The model consists of three primary parts, as seen in Figure 1. The personal component depicts learning as a subjective experience influenced by the learner’s own goals, feelings, and interests, among other factors. The socio-cultural factor highlights the significance of social and cultural components. For instance, what and how people learn during a cultural encounter depends on a variety of factors, including code, assumptions, cultural expectations, and social norms. The physical component stresses the importance of the physical–environmental setting. However, these components also need a fourth dimension to be better understood and this is time. Cultural experiences and museum learning need time. Learning and cultural experiences are dynamic phenomena, always changing. The time element is thus crucial in allowing people to make meaning from cultural experiences.

4. Mixed Visits in the Personal Context

In terms of the personal learning context, the cultural heritage field can draw on knowledge from the education field, where extensive research has been conducted over the years to support the various ways learners learn and engage with technology. For example, in education, there are different types of learning modes, such as distance learning, online learning, hybrid learning, blended learning, and mixed learning, that incorporate technology.
In distance learning, learners participate mostly asynchronously and can access learning materials in their own time. They can interact with instructors both synchronously and asynchronously [33]. During the pandemic, many museums seemed to follow the remote access paradigm by making cultural content available online for the public to access from home [34]. Many museums provided free access to digitized artifacts, online collections, and guided tours [35,36,37,38]. For example, the MET, one of the largest and most popular museums globally, offered its digitized collections online and free of charge. People could browse through the collections and the art works and access more than 490,000 objects. For each object, online visitors could see a photo of the item, its description and metadata, and access further material such as videos and related artworks.
In education, online learning allows students and faculty to communicate and participate synchronously from multiple locations. During the pandemic, if museums wished to communicate with the public, this was often done asynchronously via email and synchronous communication (e.g., over chat) did not seem to be a priority. However, there are some that use channels such as YouTube to connect live with their audiences, such as the Corning Museum of Glass. Another interesting example is St. Catharines Museum in Canada. Realizing the need for distance learning, the museum created a special section on its website, called History from Here. This section allowed people to explore the history of the region from home. However, the museum moved a step forward and also wished to support distant but also synchronous interaction during the pandemic. For this reason, they organized a series of live podcasts that started in July 2020 and continue today. Thus, museums could support online synchronous and asynchronous interaction with their audience. In a hypothetical scenario, for example, museums could provide live online access to conservation works undertaken behind the scenes, while visitors could watch from home and discuss with museum staff via a platform.
In hybrid learning, the instructor is present in class with some students while other students participate online [13]. Now, let us imagine a scenario where some people are present in the museum and others follow their visit from home, e.g., grandparents, people with mobility problems, etc. This could easily be achieved using the cameras on the visitors’ cell phones. However, there is a question about the quality of the experience for the remote visitors. In the last two years, there have been research attempts to connect the physical space of the museum with the online space and allow remote visitors to play an active role (e.g., [11,12,39,40]). The cultural sector has also experimented with forms of cultural experiences, such as a theatre performance in which some actors are present in the theatre and others act online from a prison. Despite the technical difficulties, the result was at least impressive and broke down barriers to cultural participation. Museums could consider other scenarios in which visitors actively engage with cultural content online and onsite. Over 20 years ago, Trahanias et al. [41] experimented with a robot that was physically present at the museum and received commands over the internet from distant users. In a scenario, such a robot could be controlled by people from their homes and could accompany/interact with visitors at the museum. Another example comes from the Asian Art Museum, which offers livestreamed guided tours on a regular basis. These allow people at home to enjoy the museum tour even if they are not physically there and also to ask the guide questions at the end of the tour.
In blended learning, all students are physically present in class, but also use technology to access learning content [42]. Blended visit practices are used in many museums around the world as different types of technologies are used to deliver additional cultural content [43,44,45,46]. From mobile museum guides [47] to augmented [48] and virtual reality [49] to games [50] and the internet of things [51], museums are using different types of technologies to engage their visitors with their content and improve the quality of their experience. For example, the National Gallery in London offers the Smartify app, which visitors can download on their mobile phones and use during their physical visit.
Finally, blended learning is a generic term that describes different ways that online and onsite instruction can be blended [52], forming a continuum from minimal to maximal technology use. Figure 2 is intended to summarize the different types of blended visits and is not an exhaustive representation of the field. Thus, other combinations are conceivable when technology and cultural visits are mixed. In museum reality, then, we might speak of mixed modes of visitation, where technology can support people in varying degrees and at different levels to visit either online or onsite.
In recent literature, the term phygital is found often and is used to describe these blended situations where physicality and digitality meet [53]. Debono [54], describes five possible scenarios in which the phygital museum could be realized, and which seem to form a continuum from situations where physicality is central to situations where digitality is the main aspect (Figure 3):
  • Physical with a token of digital: these are primarily physical spaces that use online tools to promote the physical visit, such as websites with visitor information, social media campaigns to increase physical visits, etc.
  • Physical with digital as an extension: these are physical spaces that use technology to duplicate aspects of the visit, such as virtual tours. The content of the technology is the same as in the physical environment but only as a subordinate substitute.
  • Digital as a pointer to the physical: the physical space is again the central in the cultural experience and although the digital content is different from the physical, it is only complementary to the physical visit.
  • Parallel and cross-referenced existence of physical and digital: there are two distinct experiences in the digital and the physical world that function independently, although they both refer to each other.
  • Digital with a token of physical: the experience is primarily digital and there are only a few references to the physical world. For example, there are museums and collections that only exist in the digital world, lacking a physical condition, such as the Digital Art Museum.
Examples of museums that apply different degrees of phygitality are the Lighthouse of Digital Art in Berlin, the Tech Art Museum in Tokyo, the New Media Arts Festival in Shanghai, etc.
Figure 3. Continuum of phygital visits based on [54].
Figure 3. Continuum of phygital visits based on [54].
Computers 12 00133 g003

5. Mixed Visits in the Socio-Cultural Context

In terms of cultural experiences, what we missed most during the pandemic was probably the social aspect of the visits. Whether visiting museums and cultural spaces alone or in groups, the presence of other people is an important element of sociability that shapes the experience [55,56,57,58]. Without it, the experience feels incomplete. From the beginning of the pandemic, there were concerns about how technology might (not) support the sociality of cultural experiences and how it might support people experiencing cultural content exclusively online [59]. Museums became increasingly aware of the lack of social sharing in the experiences they offered online, and many used social media to compensate. Certain social media campaigns were very creative and had a large social media impact. The aforementioned Getty Museum Challenge asked people to recreate works of art and post their photos on social media. There were other influential efforts, such as a famous DJ being invited to the archaeological site of ancient Messene, while people used the YouTube channel to discuss and have fun together in a large online party. Aspects of humour were also used in social media campaigns. For example, famous people and historical events were portrayed as Playmobil characters to entertain the public and increase their interaction with the museum’s social media.
Recent research had shown that hybridity and sociality can be efficiently combined when a careful design is applied. Daif et al. [60], designed, implemented and tested a game that connected four archaeological sites and their visitors, who could play in groups with or against each other in order to find object and concept associations. Participants could play individually or in groups from the four different locations, connecting synchronously over the internet. Thus, people in Lugo (Spain), Chaves (Portugal), Epidaurus (Greece) and Montegrotto Terme (Italy) could form groups and simultaneously play the game in a mixed visit social activity.
The social aspects of visits and how they can be linked to technology are now being explored by researchers [61], although the popularity of such approaches is not yet high, probably because of the design challenges that must be faced when supporting a group of people at the same time. Nonetheless, efforts are currently underway to create symbiotic environments for museum staff such as human guides, visitors, and technologies [62].

6. Mixed Visits in the Physical Context

Traditionally the physicality of experience is central to cultural experience. The importance of the physical aspects of visitation is well established, and there are many studies that show how technologies can be adapted to provide location-specific content [63,64,65,66].
During the lockdown, a new trend emerged, that of tracking a person who was in a particular location via their device. One could pay a fee to watch a person walk through an archaeological site (e.g., the famous online walks through Petra in Jordan or Pompeii in Italy) or a city. The need to go beyond informational materials and have a strong sense of physical space was evident. Some museums responded to the need for physical content by offering 3D online tours to the public. The Google Arts and Culture platform assists in allowing virtual tours to some of the most famous museums globally, including the British Museum, the Guggenheim Museum, Musée d’Orsay, etc. However, their effectiveness in providing a sufficient cultural experience is still questioned [67], and various elements are being studied to understand why some 3D tours are better than others [68]. As VR systems improve and become more affordable for home use, museums could invest in virtual tours to support physical context needs for mixed-use visits.
In addition, there are cultural institutions that solely base their services on virtual experiences, either of spaces that are long lost, or spaces that cannot be reached. For example, planetaria have successfully explored the way 3D technology can allow an immersive experience of a physical space that cannot be explored otherwise [69]. The Foundation of the Hellenic World is another type of museum that does not house physical objects but allows visitors to explore ancient cities through interactive virtual reality. Therefore, technology allows visitors to digitally explore the physicality of a place that no longer exists.
The potential of mixed visits to support the physicality of the cultural experience is significant because mixed visits can help people who cannot physically participate to connect with a cultural space. For example, Pisoni [70] used a system that allowed older people in a nursing home to connect with their friends and family in the museum and to experience the museum space. In addition, De Carolis et al. [71] investigated how social robots could be used in tourism and cultural experiences. Following their example, social robots could allow visitors to explore the cultural space by remotely controlling their movements. As technology advances, it can support many senses, such as vision, hearing, touch, kinesthesis, and smell, to provide fully immersive environments, further blurring the boundaries of digital and physical.

7. Mixed Visits over Time

The importance of supporting a cultural experience before, during, and after its implementation is well recognized in the literature. In fact, many museums, such as the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, provides activities visitors could do before and after their visit. Time is an important element in the contextual model, and various museum technologies appear to address this by designing experiences to support the need for an experience of temporal duration [72]. The temporal aspects of a blended visit are very important (the duration of support, as well as the synchronous or asynchronous experience) and seem to determine the level of engagement and the quality of the overall experience [59]. In particular, during the pandemic, when museums were physically closed, aspects of synchronous and asynchronous online experiences were evaluated, and their qualitative aspects were highlighted [73].
Temporality in museums goes beyond aspects of visit duration, synchronous and asynchronous visits, so it is also important to study how people perceive time in museums (people seem to lose track of time when they enjoy themselves) [10] and how they understand the temporal aspects of the collection. Older items tend to attract attention because visitors perceive them as very important due to their age. In addition, visitors apply different cognitive strategies in order process how old items are and the context of their use in the time of their creation [74]. Museums seem to apply different ways to show the lapse of time, e.g., timescales, progressive exhibition, room by room, starting from older times to today. Although curators and museum professionals have been focusing on issues of temporality (for example, see [75,76,77,78,79]), mixed museum visits have not yet explicitly and deeply focused on such matters.

8. Contextual Model of Mixed Visits

Based on the above, the contextual model is thus modified to reflect the need for mixed visits (Figure 4). The clearer use of the terms remote, online, hybrid, and mixed visitation allows for better conceptualization and facilitates understanding of the different visitation modalities. Any plans museums have to support mixed visits should also consider issues of physicality, sociality, and temporality of the experience. When designing mixed museum experiences, it is important to consider all elements of the model in order to plan a more comprehensive visitor experience. Modality, physicality, sociality, and temporality of mixed visits are all essential elements of a museum experience that allows for a smooth fusion of technologies and cultural experiences.
Table 1 provides a summary of the model. The literature studied is also placed within the model, so readers can easily find relevant studies. Examples from the different modalities that different museums follow are also provided, as well as lessons learnt in the form of guidelines.
After reviewing the relevant literature, we were able to expand the contextual model to include mixed types of cultural visits and different uses of technology-enhanced cultural experiences. The meta-analysis of previous works revealed how these works could be placed within the model dimensions and showed that the model was adequate in including all reviewed works. Regarding the initial research questions, the contextual model of mixed visits provided a holistic framework for structuring new knowledge that emerged over the last three years where social conditions changed due to the pandemic. The model seemed sufficient to allow connections of new knowledge and provide a more structured view of the field through its modalities. Regarding the easy identification of research gaps, the model specifies distinct areas of interest. For example, Table 1 summarizes different research efforts and reveals limited works focusing on hybrid visits and mixed type social visits. In addition, in the category of temporality one can notice fragmentation in the approaches, since different works seem to focus on different aspects of time, but very few works, if any, approach temporality issues in a holistic manner. In addition, the identification of the model dimensions can inspire future works that might seek to combine different aspects of the model and experiment with various combinations. The field of cultural technologies is very dynamic because change is ongoing. A generic model such as the one proposed here seems to provide the necessary structure for further development. COVID-19 sped up processes and pushed museums to use different forms of technologies, often as the only way to stay in contact with the public. An inductive analysis of recent literature allowed the discovery of important patterns and the enhancement of the contextual model of cultural visits.

9. Conclusions

The revised contextual model, which now includes aspects of mixed visits, seems to be able to provide an explanatory framework for recent developments in the field of technology-assisted cultural experiences. The model consists of four structural components. The first component includes technologies that assist different modes of visit. For example, museums can choose to offer online experiences, cultural content that is accessed from distance, can incorporate blended approaches that allow different combinations of tools and methods, and/or use hybrid environments. The second component considers aspects of space within which the experience takes place. Spaces could be virtual (e.g., 3D worlds, virtual reality, etc) or physical (e.g., phygital objects that function as an interface between the physical and the digital, augmented reality applications, etc.). The third component hosts works that focus on the social aspects of the cultural experience (e.g., collaborative interfaces, etc.). Finally, the last component runs in parallel with all the previously mentioned components and is relevant to temporal aspects of the cultural experience (e.g., duration of experience, time interpretations from institutions and visitors, and continuation of the experience before, during and after the visit).
The present work has attempted to organize the field of mixed cultural visits and provide examples of its use. It offers a holistic framework to understand the field of technology-assisted cultural experiences further, particularly after the raise in mixed type visits as a response of museums to the recent pandemic. This work’s main contribution seems to be that the model allows a more structured perspective of the field through its modalities. Links between old and new information appear to be possible with the model. In addition, the model specifies several areas of interest to make it simple to identify research gaps.
However, the main limitation of the work is that there is no experimental validation of the model. Furthermore, the works presented here do not cover the entire spectrum of related efforts, but simply functioned as examples and a first attempt to populate the model components. We tried to collect as many works as possible from the last three years, analyse them and place them within the different modalities.
Future developments will focus on three main areas:
  • Our future work will focus on testing the various scenarios that arise when different combinations of the categories are tried. For example, we will test different modalities of mixed visits with different combinations in terms of space, social interactions, and time, and explore their effects on the quality of the cultural experience.
  • The rise of digital technology and its rapid penetration also raises multiple ethics questions in terms of accessibility as well as in terms of human jobs within the cultural sector. We have already started research efforts studying the implications of mobile guides in museums and possible solutions (for example see [62]). We intend to continue the study of ethical implications that mixed visits create.
  • Finally, we will focus on the further validation of the model. A systematic literature review will provide a more global view of the field and will also allow the further validation of the model. We will use four main dimensions, as described in [80], in order to test the legitimacy of the model:
    • internal validity/credibility—if the model seems logical and credible to researchers, then we will expect it to be referred to by other researchers;
    • external validity/transferability—the degree to which the model can be used to host more research efforts;
    • reliability/dependability—the model should be able to effectively describe the field of technology-assisted cultural experiences and mixed visits in an ever-changing context. Thus, the model and its effectiveness need to be questioned frequently in order to establish its dependability at a given point in time;
    • objectivity/confirmability—the degree to which the model could be independently verified by other people is referred to as confirmability. If the model is confirmable, we will accept it to be used by other researchers in future works.
Mixed visits are expected to expand, and COVID-19 was only a beginning of the for further blending of technology and physical museum visits. Looking at the literature before and after 2020, we can observe a significant increase in the number of works that focus on such matters. The fusion of virtual and physical spaces, phygitality, and different uses of technology have changed, and will further change, the nature of cultural visits. Research should also focus on the administrative issues that emerge, sustainability concerns and ethical implications. As advanced technologies enter the field of cultural heritage, philosophical, political, social and economic elements will continue to emerge which require our further attention.


This research received no external funding.

Data Availability Statement

Data sharing not applicable. No new data were created or analyzed in this study. Data sharing is not applicable to this article.

Conflicts of Interest

The author declares no conflict of interest.


  1. Burke, V.; Jørgensen, D.; Jørgensen, F.A. Museums at home: Digital initiatives in response to COVID-19. Nor. Mus. 2020, 6, 117–123. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  2. Corona, L. Museums and Communication: The Case of the Louvre Museum at the COVID-19 Age. Humanit. Soc. Sci. Res. 2021, 4, 15. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  3. Agostino, D.; Arnaboldi, M.; Lampis, A. Italian state museums during the COVID-19 crisis: From onsite closure to online openness. Mus. Manag. Curatorship 2020, 35, 362–372. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  4. McGrath, J. Museums and social media during COVID-19. Public Hist. 2020, 42, 164–172. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  5. Kist, C. Museums, challenging heritage and social media during COVID-19. Mus. Soc. 2020, 18, 345–348. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  6. Tully, G. Are we living the future? Museums in the time of Covid19. In Tourism Facing a Pandemic: From Crisis to Recovery; Burini, F., Ed.; Universita degli Studi di Bergamo: Bergamo, Italy, 2020; pp. 229–242. [Google Scholar]
  7. Ciolfi, L. Hybrid Interactions in Museums: Why Materiality Still Matters. 2008. Available online: (accessed on 23 March 2023).
  8. Galani, A.; Kidd, J. Hybrid material encounters–Expanding the continuum of museum materialities in the wake of a pandemic. Mus. Soc. 2020, 18, 298–301. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  9. Waern, A.; Løvlie, A.S. Hybrid Museum Experiences: Theory and Design; Amsterdam University Press: Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 2022; p. 198. [Google Scholar]
  10. Rahimi, F.B.; Boyd, J.E.; Levy, R.M.; Eiserman, J. New media and space: An empirical study of learning and enjoyment through museum hybrid space. IEEE Trans. Vis. Comput. Graph. 2020, 28, 3013–3021. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  11. Løvlie, A.S.; Waern, A.; Eklund, L.; Spence, J.; Rajkowska, P.; Benford, S. Hybrid Museum Experiences. 2022. Available online: (accessed on 23 March 2023).
  12. Løvlie, A.S.; Ryding, K.; Spence, J.; Rajkowska, P.; Waern, A.; Wray, T.; Benford, S.; Preston, W.; ClareThorn, E. Playing games with Tito: Designing hybrid museum experiences for critical play. J. Comput. Cult. Herit. 2021, 14, 1–26. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  13. Hwang, A. Online and hybrid learning. J. Manag. Educ. 2018, 42, 557–563. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  14. Back, J.; Bedwell, B.; Benford, S.; Eklund, L.; Sundnes Løvlie, A.; Preston, W.; Rajkowska, P.; Ryding, K.; Spence, J.; Thorn, E.C.; et al. GIFT: Hybrid museum experiences through gifting and play. In Proceedings of the Workshop on Cultural Informatics Co-Located with the EUROMED International Conference on Digital Heritage, Nicosia, Cyprus, 3 November 2018. [Google Scholar]
  15. Passebois Ducros, J.; Euzéby, F. Investigating consumer experience in hybrid museums: A netnographic study. Qual. Mark. Res. Int. J. 2021, 24, 180–199. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  16. Gheorghiu, D.; Ştefan, L.; Hodea, M. Gestures and re-enactments in a hybrid museum of archaeology: Animating ancient life. In Augmented Reality in Tourism, Museums and Heritage: A New Technology to Inform and Entertain; Geroimenko, V., Ed.; Springer International Publishing: Cham, Switzerland, 2021; pp. 153–172. [Google Scholar]
  17. Shelyubskaya, A.; Sokolova, M. The Influence of Digital Technology on Museums. 2022. Available online:,and%20transforming%20the%20visiting%20experience (accessed on 6 May 2023).
  18. Kendall, J.J. Invisible Doors The Hybrid Museum: Early Childhood Virtual & In-Person Learning in Art Museums. Ph.D. Thesis, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, USA, 2021. [Google Scholar]
  19. Resta, G.; Dicuonzo, F.; Karacan, E.; Pastore, D. The impact of virtual tours on museum exhibitions after the onset of COVID-19 restrictions: Visitor engagement and long-term perspectives. SCIRES-IT-SCIentific RESearch Inf. Technol. 2021, 11, 151–166. [Google Scholar]
  20. Miyakita, G.; Homma, Y. A Case Study from Keio Museum Commons, Japan. 2022. Available online: (accessed on 6 May 2023).
  21. Simone, C.; Cerquetti, M.; La Sala, A. Museums in the Infosphere: Reshaping value creation. Mus. Manag. Curatorship 2021, 36, 322–341. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  22. Baradaran Rahimi, F.; Levy, R.M.; Boyd, J.E. Hybrid space: An emerging opportunity that alternative reality technologies offer to the museums. Space Cult. 2021, 24, 83–96. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  23. Ergin, G. Museums in the Digital Age: Hybrid Museum Experience. In Multidisciplinary Perspectives towards Building a Digitally Competent Society; Bansal, S., Huja, V., Chatervedi, V., Jain, V., Eds.; IGI Global: Hershey, PA, USA, 2022; pp. 51–69. [Google Scholar]
  24. Mason, M. The elements of visitor experience in post-digital museum design. Des. Princ. Pract. 2020, 14, 1–14. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  25. Trunfio, M.; Campana, S.; Magnelli, A. Experimenting hybrid reality in cultural heritage reconstruction. The Peasant Civilisation Park and the ‘Vicinato a Pozzo’museum of Matera (Italy). Mus. Manag. Curatorship 2022, 1–23. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  26. Li, Y.; Ch’ng, E. A framework for sharing cultural heritage objects in hybrid virtual and augmented reality environments. In Visual Heritage: Digital Approaches in Heritage Science; Ch’ng, E., Chapman, H., Gaffney, V., Wilson, A.S., Eds.; Springer International Publishing: Cham, Switzerland, 2022; pp. 471–492. [Google Scholar]
  27. Trunfio, M.; Jung, T.; Campana, S. Hybrid Reality and Mixed Reality Experiences in Italian Cultural Heritage Museums: Are They so Far Away? 2021. Available online: (accessed on 6 May 2023).
  28. Jung, T.; Trunfio, M.; Campana, S. Serious Game Reality and Industrial Museum: The ‘Bryant and May Match Factory’Project in the Peoples’ History Museum (UK). In Extended Reality and Metaverse: Immersive Technology in Times of Crisis; Jung, T., tom Dieck, M.C., Correia Loureiro, S.M., Eds.; Springer International Publishing: Cham, Switzerland, 2023; pp. 157–167. [Google Scholar]
  29. Noble, K. Challenges and opportunities: Creative approaches to museum and gallery learning during the pandemic. Int. J. Art Des. Educ. 2021, 40, 676–689. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  30. Falk, J.H.; Dierking, L.D. Learning from Museums; Rowman & Littlefield: Lanham, MD, USA, 2018. [Google Scholar]
  31. Falk, J.H.; Dierking, L.D. The contextual model of learning. In Reinventing the Museum: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives on the Paradigm Shift; Anderson, G., Ed.; Altamira Press: Oxford, UK, 2004; pp. 139–142. [Google Scholar]
  32. Falk, J.; Storksdieck, M. Using the contextual model of learning to understand visitor learning from a science center exhibition. Sci. Educ. 2005, 89, 744–778. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  33. Valentine, D. Distance learning: Promises, problems, and possibilities. Online J. Distance Learn. Adm. 2002, 5, 1–11. [Google Scholar]
  34. Todino, M.D.; Campitiello, L.; Di Tore, S. From Presence to Distance in Museum Education: The Use of Archaeological Finds to Create Digital Assets through 3D Scanning. J. Incl. Methodol. Technol. Learn. Teach. 2022, 2. Available online: (accessed on 23 March 2023).
  35. Walsh, D.; Hall, M.M.; Clough, P.; Foster, J. Characterising online museum users: A study of the National Museums Liverpool museum website. Int. J. Digit. Libr. 2020, 21, 75–87. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [Green Version]
  36. Schweibenz, W. The virtual museum: An overview of its origins, concepts, and terminology. Mus. Rev. 2019, 4, 1–29. [Google Scholar]
  37. Clerkin, C.C.; Taylor, B.L. Online encounters with museum antiquities. Am. J. Archaeol. 2021, 125, 165–175. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  38. Byun, Y.J.; Kim, Y.H. A study on the direction of online museum as a cultural platform. J. Digit. Art Eng. Multimed. 2021, 8, 37. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  39. Barnes, P.; McPherson, G. Co-creating, Co-producing and connecting: Museum practice today. Curator Mus. J. 2019, 62, 257–267. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  40. Palit, S. Digital Museums and Hybrid Models of Craft Studies during COVID-19. NIFT J. Fash. 2022, 200, 211–270. [Google Scholar]
  41. Trahanias, P.; Argyros, A.; Tsakiris, D.; Cremers, A.; Schulz, D.; Burgard, W.; Haehnel, D.; Savvaides, V.; Giannoulis, G.; Coliou, M.; et al. Tourbot-interactive museum tele-presence through robotic avatars. In Proceedings of the 9th International World Wide Web Conference, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 15 May 2000. [Google Scholar]
  42. Graham, C.R. Blended learning systems. In The Handbook of Blended Learning: Global Perspectives, Local Designs 1; Bonk, C.J., Graham, C.R., Eds.; John Wiley & Sons: Hoboken, NJ, USA, 2012; pp. 3–21. [Google Scholar]
  43. Hsu, T.Y.; Liang, H.Y. Museum engagement visits with a universal game-based blended museum learning service for different age groups. Libr. Hi Tech 2022, 40, 1226–1243. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  44. Lee, J.; Lee, H.K.; Jeong, D.; Lee, J.; Kim, T.; Lee, J. Developing museum education content: AR blended learning. Int. J. Art Des. Educ. 2021, 40, 473–491. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  45. Decker, J.; Doherty, A.; Geigel, J.; Jacobs, G. Blending Disciplines for a Blended Reality: Virtual Guides for a Living History Museum. J. Interact. Technol. Pedagogy 2020, 17. Available online: (accessed on 23 March 2023).
  46. Nortvig, A.M.; Petersen, A.K.; Helsinghof, H.; Brænder, B. Digital expansions of physical learning spaces in practice-based subjects-blended learning in Art and Craft & Design in teacher education. Comput. Educ. 2020, 159, 104020. [Google Scholar]
  47. Antoniou, A.; Reboreda Morillo, S.; Lepouras, G.; Jason Diakoumakos, J.; Vassilakis, C.; Lopez Nores, M.; Jones, C.E. Bringing a peripheral, traditional venue to the digital era with targeted narratives. Digit. Appl. Archaeol. Cult. Herit. 2019, 14, e00111. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  48. Antoniou, A.; Lepouras, G.; Kastritsis, A.; Diakoumakos, J.; Aggelakos, Y.; Platis, N. “Take me Home”: AR to Connect Exhibits to Excavation Sites. In Proceedings of the AVI²CH@ AVI 2020, Ischia, Italy, 29 September 2020. [Google Scholar]
  49. Lee, H.; Jung, T.H.; tom Dieck, M.C.; Chung, N. Experiencing immersive virtual reality in museums. Inf. Manag. 2020, 57, 103229. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  50. Antoniou, A.; Dejonai, M.I.; Lepouras, G. ‘Museum escape’: A game to increase museum visibility. In Proceedings of the Games and Learning Alliance: 8th International Conference, GALA 2019, Athens, Greece, 27–29 November 2019. [Google Scholar]
  51. Vassilakis, C.; Poulopoulos, V.; Antoniou, A.; Wallace, M.; Lepouras, G.; Lopez Nores, M. exhiSTORY: Smart Selforganizing Exhibits. In Big Data Platforms and Applications; Pop, F., Ed.; Springer International Publishing: Berlin/Heidelberg, Germany, 2021; pp. 91–111. [Google Scholar]
  52. Dudar, V.L.; Riznyk, V.V.; Kotsur, V.V.; Pechenizka, S.S.; Kovtun, O.A. Use of modern technologies and digital tools in the context of distance and mixed learning. Linguist. Cult. Rev. 2021, 5, 733–750. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  53. Nofal, E.; Reffat, R.M.; Vande Moere, A. Phygital heritage: An approach for heritage communication. In Proceedings of the 3rd Immersive Learning Research Network Conference (iLRN 2017), Coimbra, Portugal, 26 June 2017. [Google Scholar]
  54. Debono, S. Thinking Phygital: A Museological Framework of Predictive Futures. Mus. Int. 2021, 73, 156–167. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  55. Nofal, E.; Panagiotidou, G.; Reffat, R.M.; Hameeuw, H.; Boschloos, V.; Moere, A.V. Situated tangible gamification of heritage for supporting collaborative learning of young museum visitors. J. Comput. Cult. Herit. 2020, 13, 1–24. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [Green Version]
  56. Bekele, M.K. Clouds-based collaborative and multi-modal mixed reality for virtual heritage. Heritage 2021, 4, 1447–1459. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  57. Varitimiadis, S.; Kotis, K.; Pittou, D.; Konstantakis, G. Graph-based conversational AI: Towards a distributed and collaborative multi-chatbot approach for museums. Appl. Sci. 2021, 11, 9160. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  58. Horn, M.S.; Banerjee, A.; Bar-El, D.; Wallace, I.H. Engaging families around museum exhibits: Comparing tangible and multi-touch interfaces. In Proceedings of the Interaction Design and Children Conference, London, UK, 21–24 June 2020. [Google Scholar]
  59. Vayanou, M.; Katifori, A.; Chrysanthi, A.; Antoniou, A. Cultural Heritage and Social Experiences in the Times of COVID 19. In Proceedings of the AVI²CH@ AVI, Ischia, Italy, 29 September 2020. [Google Scholar]
  60. Daif, A.; Dahroug, A.T.; López-Nores, M.; González-Soutelo, S.; Bassani, M.; Antoniou, A.; Gil-Solla, A.; Ramos-Cabrer, M.; Pazos-Arias, J.J. A mobile app to learn about cultural and historical associations in a closed loop with humanities experts. Appl. Sci. 2018, 9, 9. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [Green Version]
  61. Katifori, A.; Perry, S.; Vayanou, M.; Antoniou, A.; Ioannidis, I.P.; McKinney, S.; Chrysanthi, A.; Ioannidis, Y. “Let them talk!” exploring guided group interaction in digital storytelling experiences. J. Comput. Cult. Herit. 2020, 13, 1–30. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  62. Antoniou, A.; Vayanou, M.; Katifori, A.; Chrysanthi, A.; Cheilitsi, F.; Ioannidis, Y. “Real Change Comes from Within!”: Towards a Symbiosis of Human and Digital Guides in the Museum. ACM J. Comput. Cult. Herit. 2021, 15, 1–19. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  63. Chrysanthi, A.; Katifori, A.; Vayanou, M.; Antoniou, A. Place-based digital storytelling. the interplay between narrative forms and the cultural heritage space. In Proceedings of the Emerging Technologies and the Digital Transformation of Museums and Heritage Sites: First International Conference, RISE IMET 2021, Nicosia, Cyprus, 2–4 June 2021. [Google Scholar]
  64. Shapsough, S.Y.; Zualkernan, I.A. A generic IoT architecture for ubiquitous context-aware learning. IEEE Trans. Learn. Technol. 2020, 13, 449–464. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  65. Kaghat, F.Z.; Azough, A.; Fakhour, M.; Meknassi, M. A new audio augmented reality interaction and adaptation model for museum visits. Comput. Electr. Eng. 2020, 84, 106606. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  66. Fogli, A.; Sansonetti, G. Exploiting semantics for context-aware itinerary recommendation. Pers. Ubiquitous Comput. 2019, 23, 215–231. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  67. Jokanović, M. Perspectives on Virtual Museum Tours. INSAM Journal of Contemporary. Music. Art Technol. 2020, 2, 46–57. [Google Scholar]
  68. Kabassi, K.; Maravelakis, E.; Konstantaras, A. Heuristics and Fuzzy Multi-Criteria Decision Making for Evaluating Museum Virtual Tours. Int. J. Incl. Mus. 2018, 11, 3. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  69. Lantz, E. Planetarium of the Future. Curator Mus. J. 2011, 54, 293–312. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  70. Pisoni, G. Mediating distance: New interfaces and interaction design techniques to follow and take part in remote museum visits. J. Syst. Inf. Technol. 2020, 22, 329–350. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  71. De Carolis, B.N.; Lops, P.; Musto, C.; Semeraro, G. Towards a Social Robot as Interface for Tourism Recommendations. In Proceedings of the cAESAR, Cagliari, Italy, 17–20 March 2020. [Google Scholar]
  72. Kontiza, K.; Antoniou, A.; Daif, A.; Reboreda-Morillo, S.; Bassani, M.; González-Soutelo, S.; Lykourentzou, I.; Jones, C.E.; Padfield, J.; López-Nores, M. On How Technology-Powered Storytelling Can Contribute to Cultural Heritage Sustainability across Multiple Venues—Evidence from the CrossCult H2020 Project. Sustainability 2020, 12, 1666. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [Green Version]
  73. Magliacani, M.; Sorrentino, D. Reinterpreting museums’ intended experience during the COVID-19 pandemic: Insights from Italian University Museums. Mus. Manag. Curatorship 2021, 37, 353–367. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  74. Rossi, E. People, Museums and the Rhetoric of Temporality: Considerations Regarding the Formation of the Collection at The Museum of Anthropology of Vancouver. Arch. Antropol. Mediterr. 2022, 24. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  75. Pentazou, I.; Laliotou, I. Perceptions of temporality in city museums: Timeline as visualization structure. In Proceedings of the Symposium Museums in Motion, Volos, Greece, 3–4 July 2015. [Google Scholar]
  76. Barndt, K. Layers of time: Industrial ruins and exhibitionary temporalities. PMLA 2010, 125, 134–141. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  77. Martinon, J.P. Museums, plasticity, temporality. Mus. Manag. Curatorship 2006, 21, 157–167. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  78. Hölling, H.B. Keeping Time: On Museum, Temporality and Heterotopia. ArtMatters Int. J. Tech. Art Hist. 2021, 1, 47–54. [Google Scholar]
  79. Walklate, J.A. Time and the Museum: Literature, Phenomenology, and the Production of Radical Temporality; Taylor & Francis: London, UK, 2022. [Google Scholar]
  80. Trochim, W.M.; Donnelly, J.P. Research Methods Knowledge Base; Macmillan Publishing Company: New York, NY, USA; Atomic Dog Pub: Mason, OH, USA, 2001; Volume 2. [Google Scholar]
Figure 1. Contextual model of learning (Falk and Dierking [30,31]).
Figure 1. Contextual model of learning (Falk and Dierking [30,31]).
Computers 12 00133 g001
Figure 2. Types of mixed cultural visits.
Figure 2. Types of mixed cultural visits.
Computers 12 00133 g002
Figure 4. Contextual model of mixed visits.
Figure 4. Contextual model of mixed visits.
Computers 12 00133 g004
Table 1. Summary of model elements.
Table 1. Summary of model elements.
Model DimensionsExample in the LiteratureMuseum ExampleGuidelines
Modality of mixed visitsOnline visits
Online visits:
Getty Museum (the Getty challenge—online campaign)
Kleio Museum Commons (online visits)
MET (online collections)
Digital Art Museum
Most museums need some kind of an online presence, in order to assist the visitor, plan their visit, but also to provide rich cultural content over the internet.
Distance visits
Distance visits:
St. Catharines Museum
Distance experiences also became an important element of the cultural experience. When carefully designed, distance experiences seem to motivate a future physical visit as well.
Hybrid visits
Hybrid visits:
Atelier des Lumieres
Not all visitors are able to attend physically; however, they might want to share the experience with others that are physically present. Consider ways that online and onsite visitors could co-experience the cultural content.
Blended visits
Blended visits:
National Gallery (app)
Consider multiple uses of technology to support cultural heritage experiences. A variety of tools and methods can be used to support the needs of multiple visitors.
Physicality of mixed visits[63,64,65,66,67,68,69,70,71]
The British Museum ✰
Guggenheim Museum in New York ✰
Musée d’Orsay ✰
Lighthouse of Digital Art in Berlin ✰
Tech Art Museum in Tokyo ✰
New Media Arts Festival in Shanghai ✰
National Museum of Modern & Contemporary Art in Seoul ✵
Pergamon Museum in Berlin ✵
Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam ✵
Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam ✵
J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles ✵
Uffizi Gallery
MASP Sao Paulo ✵
National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City ✵

✰ Phygital experiences
✵ 3D online museum tours through Google Arts and Culture
Humans are made to function within physical spaces. The physicality of the experience remains a very strong element of the cultural visit. Onsite technologies could be context aware and allow visitor interaction with the physical environment. Online technologies could incorporate 3D environments and/or simulations to give users a sense of being within a space.
Sociality of mixed visits[55,56,57,58,59,60,61,62,70]
The Getty Challenge
Ancient Messene DJ event
The cultural experience is primarily a social experience whether people are in a group or not. Social interactions do occur during a museum visit and technology meant to be used both onsite and online needs to support the user needs for sociality. Collaborative–cooperative solutions can be further explored.
Temporality of mixed visits[10,59,72,74,75,76,77,78,79]
Corning Museum of Glass (YouTube live streaming)
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (activities before, during and after the visit)
Consider aspects of temporality such as how to support the visitors before, during and after the visit. The time of visitors is often limited, thus plan for a short and rich experiences. Consider aspects of time interpretation by visitors and provide appropriate tools such as timelines or progressive exhibition methodologies to help people reflect on the cultural content. Understand museum time interpretations before implementing technology as museums often choose to focus on certain periods. Finally, think of issues of synchronality and whether experiences will be synchronous and/or asynchronous.
Disclaimer/Publisher’s Note: The statements, opinions and data contained in all publications are solely those of the individual author(s) and contributor(s) and not of MDPI and/or the editor(s). MDPI and/or the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to people or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content.

Share and Cite

MDPI and ACS Style

Antoniou, A. Mixed Cultural Visits or What COVID-19 Taught Us. Computers 2023, 12, 133.

AMA Style

Antoniou A. Mixed Cultural Visits or What COVID-19 Taught Us. Computers. 2023; 12(7):133.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Antoniou, Angeliki. 2023. "Mixed Cultural Visits or What COVID-19 Taught Us" Computers 12, no. 7: 133.

Note that from the first issue of 2016, this journal uses article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Article Metrics

Back to TopTop