LA visitors will be able to journey down to coral reefs and interact with an 80-foot whale.
The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles is giving visitors a chance to explore the ruins of an underwater shipwreck, watch the largest creature on planet earth–the blue whale– swim by only inches away from where they stand, and admire the iridescent lifeforms that reside in the darkest depths of the ocean, all while staying totally dry. Through a partnership with Wevr, the NHMLA is bringing a thousand-dollar scuba diving experience to the general public at an affordable price with its first foray into the world of virtual reality.
From March 6th-April 28th, visitors will be able to experience a six-minute highlight supercut of the multi-award winning season one of theBlu: An Underwater VR Experience. Participating guests begin the journey to the deep in a lounge full of glowing, real-life displays of ocean specimen and reel footage projections. Then, five visitors at a time enter the “pod’ area , where they put on an HTC Vive VR headset. Moments later, their wildest scuba dreams come true as they witness a sea turtle and jellyfish migration along the edge of a coral reef. However, guests aren’t just a witness to the magnificent underwater world they inhabit; they become a part of it. Colorful anemones react to the user’s touch, and later, in a dark cave, users can discover hidden angler fish and squid with the use of a flashlight. The experience is streamed in real time so that friends, family members, and other curious onlookers are able to watch the experience occur live from the lounge.
Directed by Call of Duty and Final Fantasy’s Jake Rowell and widely recognized as one of the best room scale VR experiences of all time, theBlu was included as a featured selection at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. Wevr’s team worked with scientists at the museum to create a supercut specifically for the exhibit with the purpose of inspiring the next generation of VR developers, marine biologists, and visitors of all backgrounds.
NHMLA Director and President Dr. Lori Bettison-Varga praised Wevr’s use of interactive media, calling it “beautiful, powerful storytelling.” Aside from being visually stunning and engaging, theBlu: An Underwater Experience also holds scientific merit.
“From someone who has done a lot of Scuba diving; it’s fantastic to see all those underwater creatures, and not to be underwater and cold. The experience is scientifically accurate and does a good job of replicating what it’s like underwater, all while you’re just standing there, warm and dry,” said NHMLA Fish Curator Chris Thacker.
As top companies in their respective fields— NHMLA serves more than 1.3 million visitors annually, and Wevr is widely respected as one of the most groundbreaking VR content creators and producers—the partnership between the two makes a lot of sense. The exhibit will likely be the first VR and Wevr exposure to a majority of visitors, and the partnership has furthered the museum’s mission to use innovative, groundbreaking technology to enhance knowledge of the natural world. Wevr and NHMLA are both benefitting from the partnership, but the true benefits fall in the hands of the hundreds, if not thousands, of visitors who will be able to experience an unforgettable underwater adventure using groundbreaking VR technology for the price of a matinee ticket to the movies. Advanced tickets are available now for as low as $8 on the museum’s website.