Instagram adds AR exhibits from the Smithsonian to its camera

The app is also working with Versailles and Le Grand Palais in Paris.

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A visitor takes a picture of the Instagram application logo at the Young Entrepreneurs fair in Paris, France, February 7, 2018. REUTERS/Charles Platiau
Charles Platiau / Reuters

Instagram is making its augmented reality effects a little more educational. The app is partnering with three museums in the United States and France to bring AR versions of their exhibits into its camera.The company has partnered with the Smithsonian, Palace of Versailles and Le Grand Palais, which have added a handful of their museum exhibitions to Instagram’s AR effects lineup.

The feature, which users can access from the effects tab in each museum’s Instagram profile, allows users to get an up-close look at museum content via the in-app camera. For example, the Smithsonian has added an AR version of the Discovery space shuttle and Triceratops skeleton.  

A Triceratops skeleton from the Smithsonian (left) and a statue from the Grand Palais (right) in Instagram's camera.
Screenshot / Instagram

The effects are part of Instagram’s Spark AR platform, which has also enabled beauty brands to create AR try-on experiences, and viral user-created filters. Though the AR exhibits provide a way for people to access museum content when they’d otherwise be stuck at home during the pandemic, Instagram notes the feature also allows users to get a much closer look at exhibits than they would with an in person visit since you can use the Instagram cameras to zoom-in on various angles of each item.

Instagram isn’t the first app to try to bring the museum experience into users’ homes with AR. Earlier this year, Google’s Arts & Culture app partnered with London’s Natural History Museum and Moscow’s State Darwin Museum to badd AR models of prehistoric creatures to its app. And Snapchat just announced a collaboration with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to create AR monuments with artists.

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