Domus: An On-Gallery Digital Museum Experience in Two Parts

Authors: Merel van der Vaart, Christie A. Ray

Date: December 2014

In: NODEM 2014 Conference Proceedings: Engaging Spaces - Interpretation, Design and Digital Strategies

This paper was presented at the NODEM 2014 conference in Warsaw, Poland on 2 December 2014. It describes research carried out by the Allard Pierson Museum’s NewMediaLab, focusing on visitor’s ability to link virtual environments and real objects, as well as the role of instruction for on-gallery interactive installations.

Abstract: In September 2014, the Allard Pierson Museum, the archaeology museum of the University of Amsterdam, opened its new Roman gallery. Leading to the redevelopment, the Museum’s NewMediaLab explored how interactive technologies, particularly virtual re-contextualization, could be used to aid visitor interpretation of the collections.

Based on earlier studies, the Museum developed and tested an interactive prototype consisting of two parts. In the first part, visitors enter a virtual environment, exploring with gesture-based navigation. In this virtual Roman house they were challenged to locate and collect seven objects, all replicas of museum objects.

In the second part, visitors could explore the original objects in a display case nearby and use a touch screen computer to uncover additional information. The study focused both on the effect of virtual contextualization, and the learnability of gesture-based navigation in the museum context. Through a series of observations and interviews with adult visitors, the Museum has examined the impact of instruction on the use of this kind of navigation. The study compared the ability for visitors to navigate the virtual space after receiving one of two forms of instruction and asked them about their instruction needs and ease of use of the installation.

Furthermore, the Museum wanted to better understand how visitors see the relationship between both the virtual installation and the real objects. Through interviews and guided visits, the team examined whether the use of digital replicas and virtual environments in the museum served to support the interpretation of the physical collections. This paper will discuss the development of the installation, as well as the research outcomes, and will reflect upon potential future developments.

Keywords: Virtual environment, re-contextualization, 3D models, instruction, museum, embodied virtual navigation,
Microsoft Kinect, evaluation

The license on this paper is CC BY-NC-ND.

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