The human history of Ecuador is unknown to most of its visitors. In fact, sometimes people do not even know that the Galapagos Islands are part of Ecuador and that they are inhabited. Many visitors coming to the islands do not have a chance to get a little more into this beautiful country’s history, extending over an 8,000-year period of time. For this reason, the new museum in Galapagos called the Augmented Reality Museum of Pre-Columbian Art (Museo de Arte Precolombino de Realidad Aumentada, MAPRAE), decided to open its doors and be the first of its kind in the Galapagos Islands and Ecuador.
The museum, located in Puerto Ayora, capital of the islands, opened in December 2016 and showcases 55 archeological pieces that work together with the augmented reality technology to enhance the visitors’ experience.
Once inside the museum, visitors use an Ecuadorian-created app, developed specifically for the museum, that allows visitors to access the augmented reality feature. The visitor only requires to point his or her smartphone or tablet at one of the 55 objects, to start receiving all the historical context, cultural information, and three-dimensional images directly on their device.
This is not only an interactive opportunity for locals to learn and understand their own anthropological background but for visitors that due to limited-time in Ecuador, do not have the opportunity to stop in Quito or Guayaquil and visit some of their biggest and most renown anthropological museums.
Even though local Galapagos museums, like the Centro de Interpretación on San Cristobal Island, gives the visitor an insight into the archipelago’s human history, it doesn’t go back to its cultural and anthropological roots on the continent. The MAPRAE attempts to bring the continental Ecuadorian history into the remoteness of the Galapagos Islands, for it to be enjoyed by the immense flow of international tourist that go through the islands every year.
Santiago Osso, the founder of this new museum in Galapagos, is currently working on the patent for his new augmented reality museum app. But for the time being, Osso is convinced the innovative approach to the history museum will have a positive impact on the tourism of the Galapagos Islands.
The history of the inhabitants of Ecuador is very interesting, but what most visitors come for is the Galapagos flora and fauna. Visiting MAPRAE in the amazing natural context of the island of Santa Cruz is an experience that puts everything in perspective. The natural evolution of the islands has been immediately connected to its human history, since the very moment the archipelago was discovered. Perhaps, understanding where we as humans come from, and how dependent we are on nature, could help us to further realize our role on the islands. Everything that affects them, affects us, and vice versa. So even if your objective on the Galapagos Islands is merely a natural one, a visit to this modern museum could introduce an anthropological notion of how one cannot live without the other. Through the observation of the archeological figures, the visitor will realize the unequivocal effect nature had on our ancestor’s psyche and everyday activities.