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Museums publicly display collections in a physical space to relay narratives and concepts to their audiences. Progressive technologies 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 subjects 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 exhibition 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.
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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
cc274@st-andrews.ac.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
1 Introduction
Gildas, a 6th century Romano-British monk chronicled the Pictish people as
“butchers” with “villainous faces” [1]. Herodian wrote they were “ignorant of
the use clothes” which was only to display their tattooed bodies in battle [1].
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” [2].
c
Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018
D. Beck et al. (Eds.): iLRN 2018, CCIS 840, pp. 97–112, 2018.
https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-93596-6_7
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
successful.
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 [5], the Brora Salt Pans based upon community excavations [5] and the
Edinburgh cityscape as it would have been in 1544 [6]. 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 [7] of historic content. This includes an immersive 3D interactive room [8],
a digital trail mobile application [7] and virtual cross reality workstations [9].
Investigation of cross reality exploration of historic sites addressed the relative
benefits of fixed point and free exploration of digital scenes that represented the
past.
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.
3 History
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
woodland.
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
Pictland.
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.
4 Methodology
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 [10].
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 [11], 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
and landscape.
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
6 Evaluation
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
learning.
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 [1214].
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
content creation.
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
challenge.
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
challenge.
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.
7 Conclusion
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
mis-represented subject.
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
exhibitions.
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
of History, Heritage and Archaeology.
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... She serves as Principal Investigator of the Chilean team in the EU-LAC MUSEUMS project. D igital technologies enable worldwide outreach; they can build relationships between communities and their museums, stimulate participation in the creation of digital heritage and enhance a visit to the museum (Cassidy et al. 2017). Through the Museums and Community: Concepts, Experiences, and Sustainability in Europe, Latin American and the Caribbean (EU-LAC MUSEUMS)-a consortium of eight institutions investigating the social, technological and cultural relations between Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean through community museology-a series of community workshops were organised, and the outputs, experiences and scholarship of communities and community museums were evaluated in over 20 museums accross three continents, funded by EU Horizons 2020. ...
... T hese trends allude to virtual aspects of museums, either conceived as virtual museums or as mixed reality exhibits combining the virtual and the real (Cassidy 2018;Miller et al. 2015). The key to harnessing the disruptive power of technology in order to strengthen and enrich relations between community and museum is to connect museum with the digital technologies and literacies their communities use and are developing. ...
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In this article, we investigate the positive impact recent developments in digital technologies have on the relations between museums, their collections and the communities they serve. Our work indicates that sustainable benefit is produced with the use of existing digital literacies and infrastructures. We have analysed and evaluated the potential of emergent 3D and spherical technologies on the relationships between community and museum, participation in the formation of heritage, the ‘visit’ to the museum, and connection with remote audiences. The evaluation arises from our long term experience in working with community museums and through a series of workshops developed for the project entitled ‘Museums and Community: Concepts, experiences, and sustainability in Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean’ (EU‐LAC‐MUSEUMS). Firstly, we contextualise the work presented by examining community museums, trends in emergent technologies and the advancements in digital heritage. Secondly, we analyse the methodologies used to design and execute the elements of the workshops, along with assess case studies to demonstrate distinctive experiences and outcomes particular to each workshop. We also describe how we constructed and implemented a novel design for a cost effective Virtual Museum Infrastructure (VMI), which makes it simpler for communities to create a virtual museum and connect it with global museum networks. Our aim is to communicate our findings in relation to methodologies, workflows and technologies that will be of value in understanding how to overcome the challenges emergent technologies present but yet have the potential to strengthen both community and museum.
... • Installation settings for various platforms [83]. • Technology acceptance and experience [25]. ...
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In recent years, virtual reality (VR) has been reaching its maturity level for practical applications amongst many fields of studies, especially in the exploration system of applied VR in cultural heritage that enables virtual walkthroughs. However, this study remains scattered and limited in the area of applied VR in cultural heritage. Therefore, a comprehensive systematic review is conducted to create a coherent taxonomy within this research scope through extensive article searches on VR, virtual heritage, and usability. Articles were searched from four databases, consisting of an expansive collection of literature covering studies from 2007 to January 2020. A total of 290 articles were obtained from the final data search and categorized into 4 taxonomy schemes classifications. The classes consist of VR-related review or survey articles, case studies, systems design and development, and evaluation studies. This paper also presents the robust and generic motivations based on the derived taxonomy of the integration of VR in cultural heritage in the context of software and hardware applications, designs, developments and assessments. The article searches also ascertained that applied VR in cultural heritage could broadly be utilized to provide customizable multimedia contents inside the VR environments, resulting in a higher degree of immersion, and this sense of presence, especially in the reconstruction of cultural heritage via applied VR. Henceforth, VR in cultural heritage has the power to extend its capabilities of influencing users by capturing their attention, which are essential functionalities in multimedia VR systems designed for transferring historical information in a more enriched, immersive, and effective manner.
... This misconception has even had an impact on conservation practice. [30] and a small exhibition in 2017 76 featuring a 3D version of a single monument [8]. Of the preceding examples, the Scandinavian picture and rune 77 stones often retain visible traces of pigment [34], and this has led to polychromatic reconstructions displayed in 78 many museums such as the 10th-century royal site at Jelling in Denmark. ...
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Many historical monuments were originally vividly painted (polychromatic), and researchers have been able to reach consensus on this even for monument classes in which only indirect evidence of painting survives. However, academic caution has led to an understandable reluctance to pass this knowledge to the public through use of reconstructions showing the colour schemes of these monuments. As a result, use of polychromatic reconstruction has been very limited and has made a significant impact on public perception for the classical period, with insignificant progress for many other important monument classes. We argue that large-scale projects to create digital reconstructions are inevitable but that adoption of open workflows is vitally important to achieve the objectives of the London Charter. We demonstrate a practical workflow with two medieval stone crosses.
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Botswana is concerned about the continuously escalating failure rate of children in basic education [grades 1–12], despite the introduction of technology in some schools. The efforts made have no significant change in the performance of children in schools. Basarwa and Bakgalagadi children l¦ive in abject poverty and rely solely on government’s handouts such as food baskets. Inequality and extreme poverty are prevalent in both rural and urban areas. The Basarwa and Bakgalagadi in the Kgalagadi desert have no opportunities for employment or resources they can utilize to change their economic status. The Kgalagadi areas are rich in wildlife, but there is no economic gain from the available natural resources and most of their basic needs are provided for by the government. The culture of the Basarwa is unique in that they speak various indigenous languages and are a very closely-knit ethnic group. Some children leave boarding schools to return home to their parents because they miss their families, and this affects their performance. Most of the Basarwa and Bakgalagadi parents are illiterate and do not value education. Factors leading to poor performance have been established. This study utilized qualitative research methods in one Basarwa settlement area as a case study to establish why Basarwa children failed to complete their education.
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Book
This volume constitutes the refereed proceedings of the 5th International Conference of the Immersive Learning Network, iLRN 2019, held in London, UK, in June 2019. The 18 revised full papers and presented in this volume were carefully reviewed and selected from 60 submissions. The papers are organized in topical sections on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM); disciplinary applications: special education; disciplinary applications: history; pedagogical strategies; immersion and presence.
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We present here the formative design and evaluation of Virtuoso, an immersive learning intervention for adults significantly impacted by autism. The intervention consisted of two components: a spherical, video-based VR intervention, and a headset-based VR intervention. VR-based interventions such as Virtuoso have garnered a modest basis of empirical support, but more is needed. The focus of the intervention was on using public transportation. Usage testing utilized multi-methods, including observational and survey methods. Results suggest a very positive user experience for participants using both video-based and headset-based VR, indicating the video-based condition was more relevant and easy to use. Implications for design and future directions for research related to VR-based interventions for individuals with autism are discussed.
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Developments in digital infrastructures and expanding digital literacies lower barriers for museums and visitor centres to provide new interactive experiences with their collections and heritage. With virtual reality more accessible, heritage institutions are eager to find out how this technology can create new methods in interpretation, learning and visualisation. This paper reviews a virtual reality framework implemented into exhibits in three cultural heritage centres. By taking advantage of existing visitor digital literacies, the exhibits provided accessible immersive exploratory experiences for inter-generational audiences. The digital framework developed is a template for virtual reality content interaction that is both intuitive and powerful. The exhibits include digital reconstructions of physical scenes using game engines for a convincing visual experience. We contextualise the logic behind a virtual reality setup for the separate institutions, how they assisted with the narrative as well as if an immersive digital environment provided a more profound response in users. Our aim is to communicate approaches, methodologies and content used to overcome the challenge of presenting a period in history to a modern audience, while using emergent technology to build connections and disseminate knowledge that is memorable and profound.
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This work discusses the methodology for the design, development and deployment of a virtual 19\(^\mathrm{th}\)-century Fish Curing Yard as an immersive museum installation. The museum building now occupies the same space where the curing yard was over 100 years prior, hence the deployment of a virtual reconstruction of the curing yard in a game engine enables the museum visitors to explore the virtual world from equivalent vantage points in the real world. The project methodology achieves the goal of maximising user experience for visitors while minimising cost for the museum, and focus group evaluations of the system revealed the success of the interaction-free design with snackable content. A major implication of the findings is that museums can provide compelling and informative experiences that enable visitors to travel back in time with minimal interaction and relatively low cost systems.
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Combining digital reconstruction with mobile technologies has the potential of enriching visitors experience to historic sites. Through designing a mobile App with Google Cardboard it is possible to use technology already in peoples' pockets to provide immersive on-site exploration of historic sites. This paper looks at our experience in developing such a mobile App which acts as a digital guided tour of the remains of St Andrews Cathedral. The App brings together traditional media such as audio, images, panoramas, 3D video and 4π Steradian (or 360°) video with a mobile smartphone and Google Cardboard to provide a tour of one of Scotland's most important historic sites. The mobile App is available from both Google Play and iTunes, providing direct delivery to a potential audience of millions. It complements the location-aware mediaeval St Andrews App, which provides a guided tour to the town of St Andrews as a whole. In the absence of Google Cardboard the App is still useful providing both visual content and audio commentary on this historic monument.
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Virtual reality (VR) technology may serve as an effective non-pharmacological analgesic to aid pain management. During VR distraction, the individual is immersed in a game presented through a head-mounted display (HMD). The technological level of the HMD can vary, as can the use of different input devices and the inclusion of sound. While more technologically advanced designs may lead to more effective pain management the specific roles of individual components within such systems are not yet fully understood. Here, the role of supplementary auditory information was explored owing to its particular ecological relevance. Healthy adult participants took part in a series of cold-pressor trials submerging their hand in cold water for as long as possible. Individual pain tolerances were measured according to the time (in seconds) before the participant withdrew their hand. The concurrent use of a VR game and the inclusion of sound was varied systematically within participants. In keeping with previous literature, the use of a VR game increased pain tolerance across conditions. Highest pain tolerance was recorded when participants were simultaneously exposed to both the VR game and supplementary sound. The simultaneous inclusion of sound may therefore play an important role when designing VR to manage pain.
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Cultural heritage is increasingly being viewed as an economic asset for geographic areas who aim to capitalise in the surge in interest in local history and heritage tourism from members of the public. Digital technologies have developed that facilitate new forms of engagement with heritage and allow local areas to showcase their history, potentially broadening interest to a wider audience, thus acting as a driver for cultural and economic resilience. The research presented in this paper explores this through interdisciplinary research utilising laser scanning and visualisation in combination with social research in Elgin. 3D data capture technologies were used to develop and test 3D data visualisations and protocols through which the urban built heritage can be digitally recorded. The main focus of this paper surrounds the application and perceptions of these technologies. Findings suggest that the primary driver for cultural heritage developments was economic (with an emphasis on tourism) but further benefits and key factors of community engagement, social learning and cultural resilience were also reported. Stakeholder engagement and partnership working, in particular, were identified as critical factors of success. The findings from the community engagement events demonstrate that laser scanning and visualisation provide a novel and engaging mechanism for co-producing heritage assets. There is a high level of public interest in such technologies and users who engaged with these models reported that they gained new perspectives (including spatial and temporal perspectives) on the built heritage of the area.
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Abstract—On the two hundredth anniversary of the highland clearances this paper reports on the innovative ways in which the Timespan Heritage centre has been using virtual world technology as part of an integrated program of community centred work aimed at challenging pre conceptions and encouraging reflection on this important historical process. An installation where users navigate through a reconstruction of pre clearance Caen township is controlled through natural gestures and presented on a 300 inch six megapixel screen. This environment allows users to experience the past in new ways. The platform has value as an effective way for educators, artists or hobbyists to create large scale virtual environments using off the shelf hardware and open source software. The result is an exhibit that also serves as a platform for experimentation into innovative ways of community co-creation and co-curation.
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St Andrews Cathedral is located on the East Coast of Scotland. Construction started in 1160 and spanned Romanesque and Gothic architectural styles. It was consecrated in 1318, four years after the battle of Bannockburn in the presence of King Robert I. For several hundred years, the Cathedral was one of the most important religious buildings in Europe and the centre of religious life in Scotland. During the Reformation, John Knox himself lead reformers in divesting the Cathedral of all its finery. Thereafter it fell into disuse and decline. Today the remains hint at its former glory. Here the use of Open Virtual Worlds (OVW) to support new modes of engagement with cultural heritage is presented through the example of St Andrews Cathedral. Open Virtual Worlds offer an extensible collaborative environment for developing historical scenes against which background material and intangible aspects of cultural heritage associated with a site may be explored. They offer the potential to reconstruct within a 3D computer environment both the physical structures of the past and important aspects of the lighting, sounds and lifestyles that once existed within those structures. Bringing together architecture, sculpture, illumination, stained-glass, music, procession and lighting into a scene, which can be explored from multiple spatial perspectives enables holistic appreciations to be developed.
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This paper discusses the use of a shared mixed reality system that supports co-visiting of museum exhibitions for both on-site and on-line visitors. We briefly present the prototype system that uses wireless communication technologies to combine handheld devices, virtual environments and hypermedia to support a museum visit. We then discuss its use, focusing on the ways that the system shaped the visiting experience with regard to collaboration in the exploration of artefacts, mutual exchange of suggestions and creative conversations among the visitors. We conclude with implications for both the design of mixed reality experiences for museums and the character of the museum.
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This paper introduces the Laconia Acropolis Virtual Archaeology (LAVA) project, a cooperative exploratory learning environment that addresses the need for students to engage with archaeological excavation scenarios. By leveraging the immersive nature of game technologies and 3D Multi-User Virtual Environments (MUVEs), LAVA facilitates the adoption of exploratory learning practices in environments which have previously been inaccessible due to barriers of space, time or cost (Collis 2001; Aitchison 2004; Colley 2004). In this paper we present our experiences and reflections during the development of a virtual excavation based on a Byzantine basilica excavated by the British School of Athens during 2000-1 (Sweetman 2000–2001; Sweetman and Katsara 2002). We consider the, benefits of allowing students to collaboratively manage and participate in a virtual excavation of the basilica and highlight how real-world findings can be used to provide an authentic virtual excavation experience. An infrastructure that supports a group-based exploratory approach is presented, which integrates 3D technologies into an existing learning management system to enable location-independent, self-paced access.
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The construction and consolidation of knowledge through the practical application of concepts and processes can be difficult to support for subjects where practice is an integral component of competence and expertise in that domain. For example, participation in an archaeological excavation is not readily available to students, although a detailed understanding of what processes this involves is deemed to be core to the subject. The Laconia Acropolis Virtual Archaeology (LAVA) project has created a cooperative exploratory learning environment that addresses the need for students to engage with the complex practice of excavation. By leveraging the progressive nature of games methodologies and the immersive engagement provided by 3D multiuser virtual environments, LAVA facilitates the adoption of exploratory learning for excavation scenarios which have previously been inaccessible due to barriers of travel, time, and cost. A virtual environment based on real world data has been developed where groups of users are faced with a series of dynamic challenges with which they engage until such time that a certain level of competence is shown. Once a series of domain-specific objectives has been met, users are able to progress forward to the next level of the simulation. The excavation simulator enhances the student learning experience by providing opportunities for students to engage with the process in a customizable, virtual environment. Not only does this provide students with an opportunity to put the theories they are familiar with into practice, but it also allows students to gain experience in applying their skills in a bid to manage an excavation process, thereby making it possible for a greater emphasis to be placed on the practical application of knowledge that the excavation process necessitates. The potential of this approach has been confirmed by a positive user evaluation. LAVA contributes toward the progress of technology-enhanced learning by illustrating the- - instantiation of a framework which demonstrates how to integrate games methods with learning management systems and virtual worlds in order to support higher order learning behaviors such as applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating.
Article
This study examined the effects of virtual reality immersion with audio on eye contact, directional focus and focus of attention for novice wind band conductors. Participants (N = 34) included a control group (n = 12) and two virtual reality groups with (n = 10) and without (n = 12) head tracking. Participants completed conducting/score study sessions twice a week for four weeks. Individual videotaped conducting sessions of a live ensemble before and after treatment served as pre and posttest measures. No significant (p > 0.05) changes due to virtual reality immersion were found. Further analyses with a larger dataset (N = 68) showed those working with audio (n = 34) significantly increased (p < 0.05) eye contact for the fast portion of the musical selection. Findings indicate (a) a sense of reality is created during virtual reality immersion and (b) the use of sound during score study may be beneficial for increasing conductor eye contact.