Publication

Exhibiting the Virtual House of Medusa: Lessons Learned from a Playful Collaborative VirtualArchaeology Installation in Various Museum Exhibitions

Publication, 2018

Outline

A. Aschauer, J. Diephuis, M. Lankes, J. Hagler - Exhibiting the Virtual House of Medusa: Lessons Learned from a Playful Collaborative VirtualArchaeology Installation in Various Museum Exhibitions - 23rd International Conference on Cultural Heritage and New Technologies, Vienna, Austria, 2018, pp. 1-9

Abstract

“Virtual and Augmented Reality” (VR & AR) technologies are becoming increasingly important in educational andcultural contexts, providing users an interactive experience with cultural and historical content. Particularly formaterial and structures that are no longer in existence or are too fragile to be available to the general public, suchapproaches permit a level of access that would not be possible otherwise.However, despite the growing success and promise of VR and AR technologies in this field, current applicationsprimarily focus on an immersive single-user experience and typically do not employ collaborative elements that canpromote discussion, reflection and other social aspects. In addition, very little has been done to integrate largeraudiences into such activities, which would enable multiple participants and audience members who occupy thesame physical space to interact and create a shared cultural experience.The “Virtual House of Medusa” (VHM) is an interactive co-located playful VR installation for a museum contextthat was developed in collaboration with the Federal Monuments Authority Austria to illustrate several fragments ofRoman wall paintings. The installation employs a cooperative approach that allows participants to slip into the roleof an archaeologist and restorer and interact with digitized artefacts. Four virtual workstations provide differentperspectives and playful interaction possibilities to actively engage multiple users in their exploration of the remainsof an historic Roman villa. The VHM has been undergoing evaluation in multiple museum contexts and preliminaryanalysis from these activities indicates potential benefits and ongoing challenges for interactive museuminstallations. This paper presents a number of lessons learned that were collected while exhibiting and presenting theinstallations on multiple occasions. The reflections concerning these lessons should help both designers andresearchers in their efforts to more effectively develop playful virtual archeology installations in the museumcontext.