Museums now have to compete within a volatile entertainment marketplace, which exploits both the virtual and the tangible. It may be that as museum practitioners, we must adopt a strategy that values and celebrates ‘the power of the real’: real time, real space, real people and real objects. It is possible that these sometimes precious and often fascinating objects provide the all-important unique selling proposition that helps provide a critical point of difference. Historically, there has been the need to curate, classify and conserve collections, establishing a tradition that demands sterile-cased and protected objects. In response, we have investigated the concept of ways to synthetically connect to these objects by metaphorically unlocking the glass case. This strategy has been encouraged through our experience incorporating digital technologies as part of the museum experience over the past 20 years. From this, we have learned many valuable lessons.