The Making and Evaluation of Picts
and Pixels: Mixed Exhibiting
in the Real and the Unreal
Catherine Anne Cassidy(B
), Adeola Fabola, Elizabeth Rhodes, and Alan Miller
School of Computer Science, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, UK
Abstract. Museums publicly display collections in a physical space to
relay narratives and concepts to their audiences. Progressive technolo-
gies in an exhibition can bring in varying demographics and gather higher
footfall for a museum as well as present digital heritage interpretation
in an innovative manner. A mixed media exhibition can facilitate sub-
jects with limited physical resources or diﬃcult to display pieces as well
as the visual landscape the objects were found within. A combination
of Virtual Reality headsets, 3D digitized objects, digitally reconstructed
archaeological sites alongside traditional object displays as methods of
interpretation substantiate research in techniques and usability as well as
challenges of recoup cost and digital literacies. This paper investigates
the methodology, technology and evaluation of the mixed media exhi-
bition Picts & Pixels presented by Culture Perth and Kinross and the
Open Virtual Worlds research team at the University of St Andrews at
the Perth Museum and Art Gallery in summer 2017.
Keywords: Virtual reality ·Mixed reality ·Digital exhibits ·Picts
Gildas, a 6th century Romano-British monk chronicled the Pictish people as
“butchers” with “villainous faces” . Herodian wrote they were “ignorant of
the use clothes” which was only to display their tattooed bodies in battle .
How academics view the Picts has changed since Gildas and Herodian, however
in modern media do these predisposed assumptions still preside. The lure to
the mysterious Picts is just that, the mystery that encircles them. For a society
to have prevalence in Scotland since the Iron Age, territory spanning north
of Edinburgh, reaching the Highlands and Islands of Scotland to leave only a
few remnants of their existence is cryptic and enticing for the dramatists. The
evidence left of their world, however little, is intricate, sophisticated and rich.
Over one hundred and ﬁfty stone sculptures found within Scotland show the
incredible intricacies of geometric and symbolic work as well as some of the
“most naturalistic animal sculptures... in Europe” .
Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018
D. Beck et al. (Eds.): iLRN 2018, CCIS 840, pp. 97–112, 2018.
98 C. A. Cassidy et al.
Exhibiting the Picts through artefacts and the narrative of their known his-
tory, tells people what is known about them and shows what is held within a
museum’s stores. However, a large amount of the Picts story is within the land-
scape, from standing stones to hillforts, which cannot be brought physically back
into an exhibition space.
This paper assembles the innovative digital work created by the Open Virtual
Worlds research group at the University of St Andrews for an exhibition at the
Perth Museum and Art Gallery entitled Picts and Pixels. The exhibition contains
multimodal digital exhibits with the physical presentation of artefacts and a
soundscape to create an immersive space to stimulate interest and learning about
the Pictish contribution to Scottish history. The exhibition was accompanied by
a program of public events including workshops, a museum late event and a
series of expert talks.
The exhibition brought together digital reconstructions based upon archaeo-
logical excavation, aerial photography of historic sites, digital artefacts produced
from photogrammetry, light and laser scanning methods as well as spherical tech-
nologies alongside and in combination with physical artefacts. This mixture of
technology and archaeological ﬁnds were brought together in the main gallery
hall of the museum as a temporary exhibit for four months in the summer of
2017. The exhibition attracted thousands of visitors and a considerable amount
of media attention, including a feature in the Guardian’s Top Tens: Your At A
Glance Guide to the Best Culture This Week feature.
This paper discusses related work prior to the exhibit as well as the back-
ground and methodology of the content and outputs created. We then present
a description of the exhibition as it appeared to visitors and analyse the tech-
nology behind each of the interactive displays. Evaluation of the exhibition took
the form of questionnaires and interviews of both experts connected with the
museum and visitors to the exhibition.
2 Related Work and Background
The technology, experimentation and digital design for the exhibition builds
upon a program of work exploring the digital representation of heritage. This
has involved collaborations with museums, academics, archaeologists and his-
torians in developing digital cultural heritage outputs, which enable cross real-
ity exploration inside and in landscapes, immersive exhibits, the application
of game technology and exploration with mobile applications. The curatorial
team involved with the exhibition at the Perth Museum and Art Gallery drew
upon their experience with a previous digital exhibit that had been especially
Digital reconstructions have been developed based upon historical and
archaeological evidence. This includes the reconstructions of a 6th Century Spar-
tan Basilica [3,4], St Andrews Cathedral as it would have stood in the 13th
century , the Brora Salt Pans based upon community excavations  and the
Edinburgh cityscape as it would have been in 1544 . All were deployed in
The Making and Evaluation of Picts and Pixels 99
various digital formats for discovery and exploration, from geo-location aware
mobile applications, ﬁrst person world exploration in virtual reality and spher-
ical tours online. The collaboration between the University of St Andrews and
the Timespan Museum and Art Gallery has developed a suite of digital interpre-
tation  of historic content. This includes an immersive 3D interactive room ,
a digital trail mobile application  and virtual cross reality workstations .
Investigation of cross reality exploration of historic sites addressed the relative
beneﬁts of ﬁxed point and free exploration of digital scenes that represented the
As part of the Horizon 2020 EU-LAC MUSEUMS project, workﬂows for
photogrammetry to create 3D models for use in museum settings were developed
and made eﬃcient. These included workﬂows for using photogrammetry to create
3D models using commodity equipment for community museums as well as a
system for creating virtual tours, linking together spherical images of scenes and
embedding interpretation within them.
The work described in this paper brings together aspects of the above work,
within the context of a single exhibition. Further it combines the digital repre-
sentation with physical exhibits creating mixed reality exhibition.
The technology, experimentation and digital design for the exhibition builds
upon the experience the Open Virtual Worlds (OVW) team has in developing
digital cultural heritage outputs, such as virtual museums, interactive exhibits
and exploration mobile applications. The team involved with the exhibition at
the Perth Museum and Art Gallery drew upon their experience with a previous
digital exhibit that had been especially successful.
After the Romans left Britain, the area around the River Tay in Perthshire came
under Pictish inﬂuence. The Picts were a Celtic people who spoke a language
similar to Welsh. Many place-names in the Tay valley contain Pictish elements.
For example, the name Perth possibly comes from the Pictish ‘pert’, meaning
The Picts created elaborate art, including large carved stones, a number of
which can be seen in the countryside around the Tay and River Earn, while
others have been moved to local museums. At some point (probably before the
end of the seventh century A.D.) the Picts converted to Christianity. Churches
and monasteries were established, often at places which already had religious or
political signiﬁcance, such as Forteviot and Abernethy.
The Pictish period also saw continuing, or in some cases renewed, use of hill-
forts. Forts at Abernethy, Moredun Top (on Moncreiﬀe Hill near Perth), and
several other sites, seem to have been occupied during the Early Middle Ages.
In 728 A.D. Moncreiﬀe Hill may have been the scene of a major battle, when the
Pictish king engus defeated his rival Ailpn in a struggle for control of southern
During the ninth century the Picts joined with the Scots (a Gaelic speaking
people based in Argyll) to create a new kingdom called Alba. This union is
100 C. A. Cassidy et al.
often seen as the beginning of the modern nation of Scotland. The Tay and
Earn valleys were at the heart of the new kingdom. There was a royal palace
at Forteviot, where one of the ﬁrst kings of Alba, Cinaed mac Ailpn, died in
858 A.D. From around the beginning of the tenth century onwards the kings of
Alba, and later Scotland, were inaugurated at Scone, probably on the mound
known as Moot Hill.
As part of the Tay Landscape Partnership, a larger funded project OVW was a
partner of, the research group was approached to collaborate with Culture Perth
and Kinross (CPK) for a forthcoming exhibition at the Perth Museum and Art
Gallery, Scotland. Technology and its potential for the exhibition was outlined
and included in funding applications early in the exhibition’s planning stages.
All meetings, whether discussing conceptual, visual or thematic ideas, members
of OVW participated.
Fig. 1. Combining physical artefacts with digital representations in a museum space
The Making and Evaluation of Picts and Pixels 101
The museum chose the Picts as a subject due to their historical prevalence in
the local area, the unusually robust collection the Perth Museum had within its
stores as well as the general mysteriousness the Picts tend to manifest. Objects
to feature were ﬁrst decided by the exhibition planning committee, while the
method of displaying the digital heritage evolved over the course of exhibition
development. Plans already included developing a virtual reconstruction of two
archaeological sites, Moredun Top and Forteviot, both active ﬁeldwork locations
at diﬀerent points during the Tay Landscape Partnership.
The logic behind including technology side by side with the physical artefacts
in the museum (Fig. 1) was to highlight the areas that could be disseminated
about the Picts but could not be actually properly presented in a traditional
manner within the gallery. These reasons included: (1) Diﬃculty of displaying
stone objects where all surfaces of the object could be publicly viewed, leading
to key markings or symbols to be missed (2), archaeological sites related to the
TLP project and exhibition that had suﬃcient data to be digitally reconstructed
in a virtual environment, but were part of the modern landscape. (3) To fea-
ture a large standing stone, the St Madoes stone, displayed in the entryway
of the museum but whose movement into the gallery for the exhibition would
have been impractical due to its weight. (4) Highlight the historically probable
coloured painting that would have originally been on the St Madoes stone, but
has since deteriorated. (5) Assist in increasing the number of displays within a
large gallery space amongst physical objects on display from Perth and National
Museum Scotland (NMS). (6) Test the capacity of latest technology for adapt-
able and innovative use in a full museum exhibition. (7) Include exhibits and
host workshops that helped bring in a continually low demographic within the
museum (under 20 years of age).
5 The Exhibition
The goals of the exhibition were to: (1) introduce an Ancient Roots theme to
the public in an engaging way; (2) provide an opportunity for tourists to learn
about Perth’s place in the Pictish period, and Pictish culture, through a range of
interactives and interpretation; (3) provide opportunities for audiences to learn
about Pictish heritage on their doorstep; (4) deliver an exhibition that enables
a programme of activities that contribute to the Year of History, Heritage and
Archaeology; (5) showcase Perth Museum collections, augmented by key loans-
in from NMS; (6) increase staﬀ knowledge in preparation for new displays and
development of Ancient Roots themes.
The exhibition was held in the main gallery hall in May, June, July and
August of 2017. As a visitor approached the entrance to the exhibition, they
would see the full length of the dimly lit hall through a stone arch portal. A cast
of a large Pictish cross was silhouetted against a moving projection of Moredun
Top landscape. A soundscape of appropriate natural sounds, birdsong, wind and
water interspersed with a Pictish bell tolling periodically set the atmosphere.
The exhibition provided a framework around which workshops and public events
102 C. A. Cassidy et al.
Fig. 2. Menu of 3D objects
were organised. These included a series of public lunchtime lectures, weekend
workshops aimed at teaching school students on how to make virtual tours, a
Museum Late event featuring digital interpretation as well as a technology open
day featuring digital games and exploration. The open day towards the end of
the exhibition, part of the Perth Medieval Festival, attracted over 500 visitors.
5.1 Modes of Engagement and Interaction with the Exhibition
In order to achieve the goal of introducing the exhibition’s audiences to the
theme of Ancient Roots in an engaging way, the interactive exhibits needed to
provide a comprehensive style of learning and entertainment for all. Each exhibit
was designed to enable visitors to gain a positive experience with or without hav-
ing physical interaction. The projections of the reconstructions played videos on
loops when the interactive went idle. The Virtual Museum exhibit’s Oculus Rift
view was mirrored to a monitor that enabled visitors to also view what the sin-
gle user was exploring. The 3D digitized objects on tablets played a video of the
selected object rotating when the digital object was not being manipulated. This
design decision was aimed to both cater to those satisﬁed with passive engage-
ment and to encourage further participants. Some visitors that did not engage
directly with interactives, by using the VR headset or Xbox controllers, were
asked their reasoning for evaluation purposes. Some cited a lack of conﬁdence
with VR and games, and contentment with watching the idle content. The inclu-
sion of a screen which mirrors the Virtual Reality headset content also enabled
group-based exploration for participants who visited with family and friends.
The Making and Evaluation of Picts and Pixels 103
Fig. 3. Sketch of moredon top features
Only one visitor could use the headset at a time, so the screen enabled the other
members of the group to share the view, facilitating conversations between them.
This is important because it helped visitor to develop shared views .
The projection interactive exhibits were controlled via an Xbox controller.
This allowed users to move from idle video to photospheres and control the view
within the photospheres. The X-Box controller is well understood by a high
proportion of the population and designed to be easy to pick up and use.
The Virtual Reality Headset also used an Xbox controller. This was largely
unproblematic but did raise some issues. Given that the view of the virtual
environment in the headset occludes the participants’ view of the real world,
users’ typically did not see the controller while they have the headset on. This
had implications, especially for users who are not familiar with game controllers,
as it may deter them from engaging with digital exhibits with technology they are
unfamiliar with. On one hand, this makes a case for controller-free exhibits which
may appeal to some members of the population but lack the added functionality
required for complex interaction. Ultimately, the decision regarding which one
to adopt should depend on the objectives of the exhibit and the target audience,
thus it behooves museums to gather data about their target audience during the
planning and execution phases of exhibits.
5.2 Digital Exhibits in a Shared Space
The OVW team provided seven digital interactive exhibits, along with audio
soundscapes, with multiple modes of delivery for the exhibition. These included:
(1) Digital Soundscape: provided atmosphere and a shared experience across
104 C. A. Cassidy et al.
Fig. 4. View of pictish landscape
both the physical and digital exhibits; (2) Virtual Museum Exhibit: Immersive
virtual museum containing 3D gallery within virtual environments, using Oculus
Rift headset and Xbox game controller; (3) Interactive Surface Exhibits: Three
mounted iPads with 3D object menu for digital object manipulation; (4) Inter-
active Digital Projection: Moredun Top reconstruction in spherical tour with
Xbox controller, projected onto large gallery wall. Looped aerial and reconstruc-
tion video played when interactive idle. Forteviot reconstruction in spherical
tour with Xbox controller, projected onto side gallery wall. Slow spinning spher-
ical images on loop when interactive idle; (5) Painted Stone Media: Digitized
St Madoes stone with an overlay of historical accurate colours. Video of colours
added to the stone on loop.
Digital Soundscape. The soundscape was designed to envelop the visitor’s
senses and to help them imagine stepping back through time. Natural Scottish
woodland sounds, complete with bird calls, wind through rustling trees and a
distant sound of a river provided the outdoor setting. A low hum of Gregorian-
like chanting created an eerie and mysterious ambiance. A recording of a replica
Pictish bell chimed every ten minutes, enough time where a visitor might hear
it twice or three times while touring the exhibition. Audio was played on a
surround sound system pre-installed in the gallery space. Levels were adjusted
so that the front half of the partitioned gallery had slightly higher volume levels
as to attract visitors in. As most of the interactive exhibits were in the rear
partition of the gallery, more people were speaking in that section and the audio
was lowered so it would not ﬁght with groups engaging in the interactives.
Interactive Surface Exhibits. An interactive digital surface enabled users
to explore digital representations of Pictish stones and artefacts that they were
mounted beside. As a popular and growing method of preservation and presen-
The Making and Evaluation of Picts and Pixels 105
tation , the 3D models were placed to help with further interrogation. This
facilitated visitors to view aspects of the objects that were either obscured in
their physical presentation, or were so small minute details were barely visible.
It also allowed visitors to manipulate the digital representation, zooming in on
features, rotating and zooming out. This was achieved using a touch interface
that many users are familiar with, as iPads were used.
A concise visual menu was designed (Fig.2) that allowed the visitor to choose
the object they wanted to interact with. A loading screen would show the rotating
object before it settled onto the 3D object. The object could be fully rotated
with zoom functionalities. An arrow button would take the visitor back to the
main menu page to choose another object.
The system was a mobile application with simple navigation. 3D models were
decimated to improve performance for the user. Models were captured by either
photogrammetry techniques, laser scanning or structure light scanning and made
into 3D meshes the 3D models with PhotoScan, VisualSFM and Meshlab.
Fig. 5. A visitor interacting with the Picts & Pixels exhibition
Interactive Digital Projection. This element of the exhibition set the tone
and provided high-impact visuals for the exhibition as a whole. Reconstruction
of the Moredun Top hillfort and surrounding area was undertaken in Unreal 4,
enabling the hillfort to be located within its context. The landscape reconstruc-
tion stretches to all areas that can be seen from modern Moredun Top (Fig.3).
106 C. A. Cassidy et al.
The reconstruction brought together data collected during three years of com-
munity archaeology excavations, with expert interpretation, landscape survey
data including topology and the pollen record.
The ﬁrst phase of the workﬂow was to establish the topology of the region.
Data from OS and other surveys was merged in a GIS system and imported
into the Unreal 4 engine where it was appropriately scaled. The landscape was
populated with biologically and historically accurate ﬂora and fauna. From the
topology, likely types of regions were identiﬁed including hill top, marshland,
steep slopes, arable land and grazing land. For each type a mix of plants and trees
were deﬁned and applied to the landscape. For the reconstruction of the hillfort,
a scaled map of the features was created and imported into Unreal 4. This was
scaled and positioned across the hilltop and provided a template for the creation
of roundhouses, fortiﬁcations and pathways. These were then constructed based
upon archaeological and historical evidence. Several rounds of reconstruction
and expert critique were undertaken to ensure that the visualisation ﬁtted with
expert opinion (Fig. 4).
The projection showed aerial footage of the Moredun Top site excavation
in progress, diﬀerent stages of the reconstruction process and the completed
reconstruction. Short textual interpretation provides context. When interaction
starts the exhibit jumps to a photosphere of the reconstruction. Visitors could
control the view and jump to the photospheres showing aspects of the hillfort
The exhibit was powered by a PC concealed in a custom cabinet which oﬀered
an instruction guide on its top and an Xbox controller. Interaction took place
using the controller enabling navigation within photospheres, access to hotspots
and movement between photospheres.
A second interactive exhibit of the Forteviot Pictish Burial ground was cre-
ated using the same methodology and delivered using the same system type.
Virtual Museum Exhibit. The free-form 3D environment of the exhibit was
implemented in Unreal Engine 4. In addition, spherical media was extracted
from these 3D environments, and were used to make up the scene components
of the exhibit. The set-up allowed users to switch between an array of virtual
environments either using game controllers or by triggering hotspots using head
movements, and these provided the illusion of moving from one place to another,
similar to a virtual tour. Digital representations of objects were imported as
3D meshes which were created using photogrammetry. A 3D gallery was used
to house the digital artefacts, which was styled to place less emphasis on the
level of detail in the virtual environment, and more emphasis on the 3D arte-
facts. Controller-based interaction was built into the 3D gallery to allow users
to rotate the artefacts around two axes, zoom in/out and move about the cen-
trepiece. Users could also switch between an array of 3D artefacts in a manner
that is similar to navigating through images in a photo gallery. In addition to
representing scenes using spherical images and physical objects using 3D arte-
facts, the exhibit allowed for placing 3D artefacts in environments represented
The Making and Evaluation of Picts and Pixels 107
by spherical scenes. This was useful for associating scenes and objects thereby
providing context and interpretation. All these components – spherical scenes,
3D object galleries, combined scenes and objects, and free-form 3D environments
– were merged into an immersive, on-site museum installation with a top-level
menu. Spherical scenes provided the ability to represent landscapes, cityscapes
and geological structures. 3D artefacts provided the ability to represent artefacts,
specimens and sculptures. Spherical scenes and 3D artefacts were combined to
provide context and association between them. Audio and text were also com-
bined with these media types to provide additional information and alternative
means of content delivery (Fig. 5).
Fig. 6. Age distribution of the Picts & Pixels exhibit visitors
Throughout the entirety of the three-month long exhibition, a general evalua-
tion was conducted by museum staﬀ. The survey included age demographics,
satisfaction with the exhibition and customers value for money.
6.1 Exhibition Run Evaluation
The exhibition was evaluated over a period of three months, during which 209
visitors provided feedback regarding their level of satisfaction and perceived value
for money. 182 of the 209 provided information about their age group. Figure 7
shows that the under 18 visitors represented the largest age group with 35.16% of
the total responders. Visitors aged over 60 represented the second largest group
with 23.63% while visitors aged 46–60 represented the third largest group with
19.76%. An evaluation exercise was conducted on the closing weekend of the
108 C. A. Cassidy et al.
exhibit. This was conducted during an open-day event, and participants were
randomly selected from the larger group of museum visitors. Data was gathered
from 22 of the 504 visitors recorded, through semi-structured interviews and
Likert-scale questionnaire (Fig. 6).
Fig. 7. Visitors’ satisfaction for the Picts & Pixels exhibit
6.2 Value and Impact
Short written responses were noted on how visitors reacted when asked what
they liked about the exhibition. 164 people responded. The general response
was overwhelmingly positive with a focus on the virtual reality aspects but all
aspects of the exhibit featuring, with special appreciation of the artefacts and
the bells in the soundscape. As how visitors felt, the exhibit was able to create,
“the feeling of being very close to these people who lived ordinary lives so long
ago and shared a space which is so familiar to us many centuries later”. It gave
visitors the “chance to see what it would be like looking at the village itself, using
the virtual reality headset”. And it “helped me visualise what life would have
been like”. This feedback suggests the addition of interactive exhibits enabled
visitors to feel close to and imagine what the past was like.
There were comments which found the “3D manipulation of objects and VR
experience” enhanced the exhibit as well as “the 3D stuﬀ was fab”. And the
VR headset was both an “absolutely fantastic way to immerse yourself with
an artefact!” and good to “learn about the medieval houses on Moncrieﬀ Hill”.
The combination of digital and physical worked well “3D images particularly
enhanced the experience. Also, great variety of local artefacts”. From the sur-
vey questionnaires of the 209 responders, 62.20% were very satisﬁed with the
exhibition, 28% reported being satisﬁed, while less than 3% of the responders
were not satisﬁed (Fig. 7). Over 82% of responders also felt that the exhibition
provided value for money.
Participants at the open day evaluation ﬁlled out an experience questionnaire
to evaluate whether the system is easy to use, whether they would recommend
The Making and Evaluation of Picts and Pixels 109
it for learning history, whether it has changed their perception of the subject
matter, whether it has stimulated their interest in learning and whether they felt
immersed in the virtual environment. The responses were gathered on a 5-point
Likert-scale questionnaire and Fig. 8shows that the mean responses to all the
questionnaire items were positive (i.e. above the point of neutrality) and that
the visitors strongly agree that they would recommend the system for heritage
Six (6) participants highlighted the technology potential for learning in
schools and museums. Eight (8) participants stated that the system enables
them to better appreciate local (Perth) history by providing concrete, picto-
rial illustrations. Participants also appreciated the combination of history and
technology in a museum setting.
Within the VR headset exhibit, some participants’ suggested the inclusion
of varied sound content for improved realism and as an alternate means of infor-
mation delivery. Participants suggested the addition of ambient sound and audio
narratives to make the experience more natural. There is evidence in literature
to suggest that audio content aﬀects users’ perception of both the virtual and
physical environments [12–14].
Fig. 8. Participants’ mean responses to the Likert-scale user experience questionnaire
Structured interviews with museum curators highlighted conviction, cost and
expertise as typical challenges to the adoption of digital exhibits in museum
spaces and the following observations.
1. Museums may lack the conviction and may be skeptical about the use of
digital exhibits owing to their perception of VR technology as a “work in
progress”. The museum adopted the digital exhibition in spite of this convic-
tion because technology can serve as a “strong and interpretive tool” and has
the potential to foster interaction and engagement with heritage.
2. The cost of equipment purchase and maintenance constitutes a challenge to
the development of digital exhibits. However discussions reﬂected on how
110 C. A. Cassidy et al.
the reusability of digital content helps to spread out the cost of creating
the content over time. For instance, the 3D content was used in the on-site
exhibition, online virtual tours and mobile apps, thus demonstrating content
reuse on multiple platforms which signiﬁcantly reduces the eﬀective-cost of
3. Museums may need to outsource technical tasks where the required exper-
tise is not available in-house, as was the case with the Perth Museum and
Art Gallery. However, outsourcing is not always feasible. Developing inter-
disciplinary collaborations and empowering museum staﬀ can address this
4. The availability of heritage experts is just as important as technical expertise.
Museums may be short on manpower that possess the skills required to ini-
tiate technical projects and/or collaborate with technical experts. Awareness
of museums’ needs coupled with an allocation of resources can address this
As demonstrated by the survey data, the exhibition exceeded expectations
from the visitors’ perspective, as 82.30% thought it was good value for money
and 90.43% expressed that they were either satisﬁed or very satisﬁed with the
exhibition (see Fig. 7). The combination of physical and digital content enabled
the museum to appeal to diﬀerent audiences – those interested in novel tech-
nologies and those interested in traditional heritage content.
This paper has looked at the creative and technical development of a mixed real-
ity exhibition, Picts and Pixels, which showed in the Perth Museum during the
summer of 2017. From its early conception, this exhibition has brought together
multiple modes of exploration of the past within a single gallery space. The
physical and digital exhibits combined with the precisely planned atmosphere
of the gallery came together to create an experience which took visitors back in
time to an early Scotland. Through evaluation, the addition of immersive tech-
nology proved to greatly enhance the visitor experience; an undertaking that
both helped imagine another time in history, as well as a group of people greatly
misunderstood through time.
The exhibition raised and resolved important questions, including how to
create a space where digital and physical exhibits complement each other as
well as play on each other’s strengths. We feel that overall we achieved this,
primarily due to the parallel design of both components that was integrated
from the beginning stages of planning. This allowed for the digital and physical
to be complimentary tools to create an exhibition around a single and commonly
Picts and Pixels helped to normalize digital interpretation and virtual real-
ity in a museum setting, treating them as instruments within the curator’s
toolkit that could be used together to create accessible, engaging and interactive
The Making and Evaluation of Picts and Pixels 111
For all partners this project contributed to their long-term development and
organisational resilience. It helped them to build audiences and brings the shar-
ing of new expertise and knowledge, skills and resources in what was a genuinely
new way of working for us. Using new technology to interpret collections and
themes in an exciting and creative way helped reposition Perth Museum & Art
Gallery as an organisation that excites and innovates, oﬀering visitors a creative
experience combining traditional and digital interpretation. Lessons learned and
increased staﬀ skills contributed to and informed a major redevelopment of Cul-
ture Perth and Kinross venues, 2018–2022. For PKHT/TLP and the University
of St Andrews Open Virtual Worlds it provides an opportunity to promote their
work and develop the Museum in a Box toolkit for the sector. For local museum
partners it brings closer working and co-operation and contribution to the Year
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