VIRTUAL VERONESE, immersive storytelling in VR and AR



VIRTUAL VERONESE, immersive storytelling in VR and AR

How can people be transported through space and time, to a beautiful chapel in Italy in 1562, to experience the story behind the painting ‘The Consecration of St. Nicolas’ by Paolo Veronese, in its original place of worship. Does this innovative kind of immersive storytelling feel ‘real’ and engaging to National Gallery (London, UK) visitors? Is their user experience different when using Augmented Reality (AR) or Virtual Reality (VR)?

This study compared user experiences of one VR and two AR versions of an immersive gallery experience ‘Virtual Veronese’, measuring multiple aspects of user experience, including enjoyment, presence, cognitive, emotional and behavioural engagement, using a between-subjects design, at the National Gallery in London, UK.

Analysis of the self-reported survey data (N=368) showed the following:
–       Enjoyment was high on all devices, with the Oculus Quest (VR) receiving higher mean scores than both AR devices, Magic Leap and Mira Prism.
–       In relation to presence, the elements ‘spatial presence’, ‘involvement’, and ‘sense of being there’ received a higher mean score on the Oculus Quest than on both AR devices, and on realism the Oculus Quest scored significantly higher than the Magic Leap.
–     Cognitive engagement was similar between the three devices, with only one individual item, ‘I knew what to do’, being rated higher for Quest than Mira Prism.
–       Emotional engagement was similar between the devices.
–       Behavioural engagement was high on all devices, with only ‘I would like to see more experiences like this’ being higher for Oculus Quest than Mira Prism.
–       Negative effects including nausea were rarely reported.

Differences in user experiences were likely partly driven by differences in technical immersion levels between the devices.

The study suggests that both VR and AR can be effective immersive storytelling tools in cultural places.

Isabelle Velhurst

Royal Holloway University of London


Isabelle Verhulst (MBA, MSci) is an Audience Insight Researcher at StoryFutures (Academy), focusing on immersive audiences’ attitudes and behaviours. She researches audience behaviours in immersive context to help develop innovative approaches to storytelling.
Isabelle has an industry background in international consumer marketing, degrees in business and clinical psychology, and is starting her Psychology PhD this September, focusing on how the sense of ‘presence’ is created in AR experiences.

A peer-reviewed journal article about this immersive National Gallery experience has been accepted for publication in Computers in Human Behaviour (Verhulst et al., 2021,

VIRTUAL VERONESE, immersive storytelling in VR and AR


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