Cultural Heritage Spotlight: Discover the incredible VR Museum from Archaeology Gemeente Den Haag

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Our Cultural institutions Page highlights our ongoing support of museums and cultural institutions with free accounts and access to tools. In Cultural Heritage Spotlight, we’ll explore museums and cultural institutions who are using 3D technology to bring new life to their collections. Today’s blog post features Archaeology Gemeente Den Haag, a government institution which deals with the archaeological, cultural heritage of the city The Hague in the Netherlands.

Archaeology Gemeente Den Haag is a government institution which deals with the archaeological, cultural heritage of the city The Hague in the Netherlands. During our excavations we collect a lot of data. Most data takes a long time to process. One of these time consuming collecting of data is the drawing of archaeological features and finds. In the past couple of years we transformed our way of digging and collecting data into a more digital way. The drawing of tracks is done with a Robotic Total Station, hundreds of photographs are made by a minidrone and many scenes and objects are rendered to 3D models. This new approach takes a different way of working and a different way of exposing and processing the archaeological data.
The 3D modeling gives us great opportunities. The amount of time we save is tremendous. The drawing of a horse burial for instance took hours in the past, but now the actually making of the pictures takes only 15 minutes. Another advantage is the objective way of collecting our data. Once the horse is rendered it’s very easy to measure distances and see things you could have missed during the actual digging.

Some things we excavate are even harder to collect and bring home in one piece, like fragile wooden objects, whole archaeological pits.  In order to make good 3D models of excavation pits we use a minidrone (phantom 3 professional). It’s very easy to investigate some of the features later on. This data is also georeferenced, so all objects are collected in the coordinate system. This makes it possible to connect other scenes and finds in a fast and easy way.

The Sketchfab’s below is an example of a pit. Here where we found a lot of Medieval features like ditches and animal burials, but also Roman rooftiles (tegulae and imbrices) and even a Roman footprint underneath the rooftiles. Follow the links to see the exact locations.

Another great opportunity of making 3D modeling is the way to exhibit it to the public. We made 4 very easy 3D objects with questions for the users and put them on Sketchfab (please see models here).

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During one of our exhibitions we provided free VR carton goggles with QR codes which linked the viewers to Sketchfab. That turned out to be a success. Many people like this way of investigating themselves the finds and scenes. In the future we will do this more often and the plan is to animate it.

Another way to display our data is a virtual museum. All the data of the same excavation has been put in this museum. The museum has three levels which shows all kinds of facettes of archaeology. The first level is the museum itself. Here you can see photographs, 3D objects, 3D scenes and animated Medieval and Roman features and houses. The second level shows a reconstruction of a prehistoric house and landscape. Here you can make a (prehistoric) walk in the park Third level is a minigame which leads to an archaeological pit.  The advantage to collect all of these data in a museum is that the user gets a great  overview what has been found and in what context. During an exhibition (National day of Archaeology) last weekend, 400 people enjoyed this game.

picture-5-sketchfab_virtual-museum

The game is made in Unreal Engine, some objects made in Blender and all 3D models made with Agisoft Photoscan.

For now it can be played on a desktop or playstation 4 with a Xbox controller. The plan is to make this available for our HTC Vive as soon as possible. This will improve the experience even more.

Thanks again for sharing, Robert! 

If you are part of a cultural institution, get in touch with us at museums@sketchfab.com to set up your free business account.

About the author

Raphaël Marchou

Cultural Heritage Enthusiast !


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