Virtual reality experience created for Great North Museum: Hancock

Rebecca Atkinson, 22.04.2015
Oculus Rift 3D headsets reveal virtual Greek villa
A virtual reality experience created for the Great North Museum: Hancock in Newcastle allows visitors to explore artefacts in their historical context.

Visitors are able to use Oculus Rift 3D headsets to visit a virtual Greek villa complete with the recreated objects.

The experience was created by Chronicles VR, a Newcastle University start-up run by Dominic Dean and Rachel Derbyshire. It received £3,000 from Gateshead Council as well as funding from the university’s start-up programme, Rise Up.

About 20 objects from the museum’s pottery collection were photographed using a camera rig to create 3D models, with 15 recreated and put on display in the virtual world.

“This allows visitors to see everything in the first person and is as close as possible to being there in real life,” Derbyshire said. “We had queues coming out of the door during the trial, and the museum found that once people had used the headset, they went to look at the collections and experienced the real artefacts.”

Chronicles VR now plans to develop a larger, long-term experience for the museum. But Derbyshire said that although virtual reality holds a lot of potential for museums, the technology is still at prototype stage and isn’t available commercially.

“Demand for virtual reality in museums will become more apparent when it is,” she added.

Andrew Parkin, the specialist collections adviser at the Great North Museum: Hancock, said: “I think that virtual reality in museums has great potential and can revolutionise the way we experience and interact with artefacts.”