Technology in our project is primarily used as an enabling tool. Rather than investing large resources in speculative breakthroughs in new software, our ambition is to work with already tried and tested digital technologies, and apply them in novel ways. Through primary collaboration between the National Museum of Archaeology in Lisbon, the University of the West Indies, and Computer Science of the University of St Andrews, innovations will inevitably be made, but these innovations will lie primarily in overcoming the societal challenge of empowering remote communities to engage with their histories and heritage. Using new technologies, we aim to bring our professional and academic expertise together to build bridges between Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean. The three main technological means through which we will achieve this goal are the multi-lingual project Web Portal, developing community museum apps, and researching and co-curating Virtual Museums.
One of the first major research outputs from the University of St Andrews is the creation of a bespoke EU-LAC-MUSEUMS Virtual Museum. In this section, we will highlight the major outputs of the Virtual Museum, and provide the EU-LAC 3D website URL which you can click to enter into our new virtual space! Intergenerational 3D Workshops are being held in 3 European, 3 Latin American and 3 Caribbean countries. The results are being shared here for our regions and for the world to see.
Stepping into a museum and exploring a culture’s stories, traditions and artefacts no longer requires an expensive plane ticket. Through digital technologies, a visitor can explore remote museums, digitally handle objects and learn about a culture’s distinct traditions and stories from the comfort of their home. The Virtual Museum is the media hub for all content produced during 3D workshops. The site will continue hosting materials produced by museums following the instruction of the seminars, and enable contribution from community members. The virtual museum also offer instruction for those eager to learn the techniques used to create the digital media seen on the site.
Created specifically for the EU-LAC MUSEUMS project by the University of St Andrews, the EU-LAC MUSEUMS Virtual Museum is a major research outcome that assembles digital media of cultural heritage; making it easy to access and use. 3D digital objects, 360° museum tours and community discussion videos populate the Virtual Museum as content generated from the 3D Workshops, held in three European, three Latin American and three Caribbean countries. By creating digital content from community museums all over the world, the heritage, objects and stories can be shared and appreciated by a global audience.
Putting Community Museums on the Map
Search the world to find museums involved in the 3D EU LAC program. From each museum's marker you can explore Virtual tours and 3D Galleries, contribute to a Wiki or browse the museums social media and web presence.
Virtual Museum Galleries and Toolkits
Stepping into a museum and exploring a culture’s stories, traditions and artefacts no longer requires an expensive plane ticket. Through digital technologies, a visitor can explore remote museums, digitally handle objects and learn about a culture’s distinct traditions and stories from the comfort of their home. The Virtual Museum, specifically created for the EU-LAC project, is the media hub for all content produced during 3D workshops. The site will continue hosting materials produced by museums following the instruction of the seminars, and enable contribution from community members. The virtual museum also offer instruction for those eager to learn the techniques used to create the digital media seen on the site.
Museum objects are usually held behind glass display cases or locked away from the public eye in collection stores. Cultural items have stories that continue past the text panels within a museum, and often analysing the object allows for a deeper understanding of a culture. 3D digitization allows artefacts to not only be preserved digitally, but to carry on telling their culture’s stories to an online audience eager to interact with them.
Objects, following certain criteria, are picked by museum staff to either be 3D scanned or photogrammatised. Scanning can be done only if the necessary equipment is available, which lends photogrammetry to be the preferred affordable method. Images are sent through open source software that creates a 3D file which then can be archived and uploaded to a social archiving site such as Sketchfab. As a social site, Sketchfab tracks a user’s followers, views and comments. All digital objects appear in a video player which can be embedded in websites easily.
Imagine with just a few clicks of a mouse or through a virtual reality headset, a visitor could walk through the doors of a museum found in a lush rainforest of Costa Rica or tour a museum amidst the dramatic backdrop of the Shetland Islands in Scotland. Virtual tours of cultural museums allow first time visitors to explore new cultures as well as enabling previous residents to revisit and explore their family’s past.
Using the social archiving site Round.Me, 360 degree photographs taken through museums can be linked together creating an immersive tour. The site allows hotspots to be added within the scenes, which can handle text, audio, images and video. The finished tour can be embedded into a website or viewed through the Round.Me site. The archiving site also takes in analysis of views, followers and comments so basic visitor data can be quantified.
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A wiki facilitates collaborative work and revision about a topic online. Text, images and embedded videos can be added for each artefact. With every object uploaded to the Virtual Museum, a wiki page is created which then can be edited by museum staff, volunteers and community members. Cultural materials are often stories of a collective people, offering numerous and varied insights and knowledge. By generating a wiki, all members of a community can add their knowledge to an object’s narrative that can be discovered by anyone online.
When a digital object’s files are uploaded to the Virtual Museum, the object is archived within the server and all original files are run through their respective software to create a 3D digital object. Even though software is widely available to convert digital files to 3D objects, the computer used needs to have enough processing power. All artefacts will be accessible online to other museums, researchers and to general online community.
When an object is added, all information provided including the metadata follows the object through each process. This ensures a detailed description when the digital object is added to collection within a social archiving site or the corresponding wiki.
The Virtual Museum acts as a digital centre for all media that is produced by the workshops and by the museums and communities thereafter. In order to provide instruction after the workshops, toolkits are available on the website for self-guidance through every aspect of the Virtual Museum. The relevant software and app guides are also available through links that will take a user to the programs home page.