COVID: Virtual Reality and Engagement with Heritage Participation Workshop

Session 1: COVID: Virtual Reality and Engagement with Heritage
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How can we use digital technologies to provide resilience and enhance user experience? Whether it be immersive virtual reality, taking the museum into the home, creating museums without walls or providing digital interpretation in the museum how can we make safe resilient solutions that engage audiences. We will look at how creating virtual museums that stream media to visitors phones in the museum and in their home may provide the resilient engaging solutions appropriate for today.

Scotland has been a world leader in using virtual reality to enthral audiences with our culture and history. Whether it be reliving the Battle of Bannock burn at the Bannockburn centre, exploring a pre-clearance township at the Timespan museum or taking a trip to St Kilda from Taigh Chearsabhagh museum. COVID 19 has hit the heritage and tourist industry hard, but there are opportunities to build on the creative digital responses during lockdown to connect with audiences new and established through immersive and mobile technologies.

How can Virtual Reality be used to enhance visitor experience in the wake of COVID 19. We will explore the potential of safe virtual and augmented reality: a) streaming content to visitors’ devices within the museum. b) using mobile technology to create museums without walls and c) connecting to the home.

Contributors will include:

David Caldwell: President Scottish Society of Antiquaries

Nicola Henderson: Museums and Heritage Scotland

Anne Marie Reid: Highlands and Islands Enterprise and CUPIDO

Alan Miller: Smart History, University of St Andrews and Stratus Project

Catherine Cassidy: University of St Andrews and EULAC 3D

Jacquie Aitken: Timespan Museum and CINE Project

Skotta and Skuli : Gunnar Gunnarson Institute and CINE Project

Marri Morrison: Comann Eachdraidh Uibhist a Tuath and Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum

Caen Longhouse Settlement from CINE GATE on Vimeo.

Heritage and Tourist sectors have been greatly affected by COVID-19 and will face many challenges in the future. However, there has also been a huge creative digital response with museums reaching locked down audiences through virtual tours, galleries, live events and social media.

The ideas of “Museum at Home” and “Heritage at Home” promoted new ways enabling museums to promote out and audiences to connect with heritage, whilst staying safe and not exasperating exposure to COVID 19.

This program of workshops is informed by DASH, the Digital Attitude and Skills for Heritage survey conducted by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the experience of workshops in the EU LAC museums, CINE and CUPIDO EU projects. It focusses on Communications, Creating Content and developing Community the three priorities identified in the survey.

The University of St Andrews, the CUPIDO project, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and XpoNorth organised a series of workshops aimed at helping the development of the skills needed for heritage professionals and volunteers to deliver “Heritage to the Home”. The series proved popular with hundreds participating and thousands viewing the workshops. This series of workshops aims to equip participants to be able to make use of digital technologies in the promotion and preservation of heritage. This series stands in its own right and follows on from the Heritage at Home series of workshops held online during lockdown and hosted by XpoNorth.

Each workshop will explore a particular area of digital heritage. We will look at the technical background, how the technology has been used. Each will address the three Cs of creation, communication and community. There will be a show and tell, guide to developing digital content, together with guides for communicating and connecting with community. The workshops will also be a sharing experience drawing on the skills and knowledge of participants.

The Heritage Studio Facebook group will be a forum for questions and discussions between sessions and act as a repository of resources.

This series of workshops are supported through the CUPIDO (Culture power: to inspire development in rural areas) North Sea Region Interreg cultural heritage project, designed to develop new business opportunities in the culture and heritage sector. This is to reinforce the economic position, competitiveness and social inclusion of local rural communities. The project has 16 partners from 7 North Sea Region countries and runs from 2019 to 2022.

CUPIDO has enabled Highlands and Islands Enterprise to partner with University of St Andrews to work with communities and social enterprises across the Highlands and Islands region on a programme of transnational digital heritage activities designed to help commercialise the culture sector. More information about the CUPIDO project can be found here and


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