Virtual Herculaneum – BBC report

From BBC News

See the video

A look around Italy’s museum where hi-tech has replaced the exhibits

Technology is often employed to bring exhibitions to life, but as
David Reid found out, one museum has gone one step further by using it
to replace all its displays.

The Virtual Museum of Archaeology (or MAV), which opened this
summer, is based on the ancient Roman town of Herculaneum and is sited
100 metres from the ruins of the former settlement.

The creators of MAV aim to digitally reconstruct the destroyed town and recreate what life there was like.

Animation of old Herculaneum

MAV museum used modern tech to Herculaneum to life

The town was destroyed in 79 AD when the eruption of Mount Vesuvius
encased it in scalding ash, killing those trying to flee, and
preserving under 25m of debris some of the finest examples of private
Roman villas.

“It is incredible coming to Herculaneum in the dark because
your imagination fills in the gaps. Now a local museum is using digital
technology to do just that,” said Walter Ferrara, the MAV’s head
curator.

Although MAV is near the actual site of Herculaneum it attempts to show it how it was not how it is now.

“You can see only stones and some buildings,” said Mr Ferrara.
“You cannot see them how they were… these reconstructions you can see
here are immersive and have a lot of appeal.”

The Romans are a well-suited subject for a digital museum, as
they were great proponents of the pixel, and were technologically
ambitious.

Walter Ferrara, the head curator at MAV

The museum’s head curator says its animations have much appeal

However, the developers have been careful not to let the museum’s message become too eclipsed by 21st century technology.

Gaetano Capasso, concept developer for MAV, says: “Technology has to prompt curiosity, but remain discrete.”

The MAV is unique among archaeological museums in exhibiting no ancient artefacts such as Roman busts or original murals.

There are also no alarms, no security guards and no signs saying
“Do Not Touch”. But it prides itself in being unapologetically
educational.

While Vesuvius has gone back to sleep, the main threat to
Herculaneum now that much of it has been excavated, could be from
visitors plodding around the ruins.

Museum visitor

A museum visitor tries one of the museum’s many interactive screens

If these visitors can be persuaded to go to the virtual museum
rather than trek around around the ruins then it might go some way
towards preserving those crumbling stones.

“This is also the best way to make these towns live in the
future, because otherwise I think they will be destroyed again and not
by Vesuvius, but by people,” says archaeologist Caterina Cozzalino.

With a shrinking government budget to protect a rich cultural
heritage, this virtual museum could become a model to preserve Italy’s
fragile archaeological sites in the future.

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2 Responses

  1. Another video can be seen here. Thank you.

  2. […]  https://arltblog.wordpress.com/2008/09/14/virtual-herculaneum-bbc-report/ […]

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