This post is by community members Carlos Carpetudo & Helena Barreiras from Morbase, published by Sketchfab.
Morbase is a project from Montemor-o-Novo’s Municipality for the promotion of the scientific knowledge related to the cultural heritage of Montemor-o-Novo’s region in Portugal. Morbase has been online since 2014 at montemorbase.com and its 2.0 version is now live since June 24th.
Morbase focuses on promoting the scientific knowledge of Montemor-o-Novo’s heritage, through the guidelines of public archaeology, presenting both the data and scientific interpretations to the general public, enhancing the interaction between them and the scientific community. Morbase is also a platform which promotes the innovation of scientific knowledge apprehension techniques and also record and dialog techniques for public heritage, by developing public and experimental archaeology in the context of communication for the heritage area.
The Virtual Museum is a new feature of Morbase 2.0, in partnership with Sketchfab that incorporates, in our website, the 3D model library, which until now was only available in our Sketchfab profile. This allows users to explore a museological collection at any given time, hour, and/or place, by taking advantage of the Sketchfab viewer for 3D models, which, since it’s embedded into the website, doesn’t break the flow of the Virtual Museum.
Three years ago when Morbase’s website was launched, it had an entirely different dimension and end-use. So, the addition of the virtual museum alone required a complete revamp of the site’s user flow. We started off by better understanding the audience we’re building the website for, therefore helping us create the best experience possible. Since most of our users are not that tech-savvy, we kept things very simple and easy to understand.
With this in mind, regarding the virtual museum, the first thing we had to do was explain what it was and how to use it. After this, we could list all the available models, showing, in one go, everything the museum had to offer. Thanks to Sketchfab’s embed feature, it was effortless to implement the 3D models and still keep things simple and aesthetically appealing for the end-user.
The UI design also plays an important role here, giving the Museum a unique and modern look, away from the standard corporate/institutional interface in the industry, which in some cases might disengage the user.
A large portion of the 3D models scanned through photogrammetry and incorporated in the Virtual Museum, are of museological artefacts or monuments, often hidden from the public eye, by numerous reasons (such as private property, and pieces belonging to private collections, or forgotten in museum reserves). The Virtual Museum enables these Montemor-o-Novo’s heritage components to reach a new spotlight which may become essential in their preservation for future generations to come.
For now, the Virtual Museum collection of 3D models already incorporates artefacts from the Castle of Montemor-o-Novo’s Interpretation Center, from the collection in the museum of the Grupo de Amigos de Montemor-o-Novo, as well as artefacts from Montemor-o-Novo incorporated in the Museu Nacional de Arqueologia’s reserves. Also available in Morbase’s Virtual Museum is the famous equine engraving from the Gruta do Escoural, the manuelino portal from the Igreja da Misericórdia in Montemor-o-Novo (a 3D model awarded with the Staff Pick from Sketchfab), as well as the statue of São João de Deus (another 3D model awarded with the Staff Pick) or the VR Exhibition Património. Partilhar o Passado, Construir o Futuro. Since the release of Morbase’s new documentary “Gente que nunca mais existiu – o Megalitismo em Montemor-o-Novo” about the megalithic monuments in our region (available with English subtitles on Youtube), we also added some new 3D scans regarding this particular kind of heritage. That is the case for the Tojal monolith which you can see below.
Thanks again to Sketchfab for its amazing 3D models viewer that allowed us to build this Virtual Museum in Morbase.