How it worked at Derby Museum and Art Gallery

We were lucky enough to deploy VRtefacts for the first time at Derby Museum & Art Gallery on 22 and 23 May, 2019. This was an initial exploration of how they might use Virtual Reality storytelling for their new Museum of Making, scheduled to open in 2020.

VRtefacts uses a combination of subtle techniques that can lead to fascinating, heartfelt, and insightful stories:

1. The visitor’s experience was led by two trained researchers who used carefully scripted techniques to lead visitors who might be intimidated by the prospect of being recorded to a point where they could comfortably give a coherent, personal response to their object.

2. Part of this transition was made possible by a camera and lights that exist solely in the VR environment. These contributed to a sense of significance that can enable the positive elements of storytelling without generating stage fright.

3. The manipulation of scale and substance in the three 3D prints allowed for and new connections and insights.

4. We also used 3D scans with no associated 3D prints. These were scaled to fit within an (actual) acrylic vitrine, which afforded many of the same types of interaction as the 3D prints. Visitors got to experience one printed object and one scanned object.

5. VR was enough of a novelty factor to entice the curious, while the combination of storytelling and VR is still unusual enough to be at least somewhat novel even for those with years of experience.

Ideal objects for 3D scanning and/or 3D printing are those that are too large to be seen from all angles, those that are too small to see in any detail, and those that are so fragile they would clearly not withstand handling.  

We are busy analysing data from this first live trial of VRtefacts. We will post highlights of our findings as soon as possible.

We would like to thank Dr Martin Baumers from the Centre for Additive Manufacturing at the University of Nottingham for printing the complex aero engine for us.

VRtefacts is coming to Derby Museums!

On 22 and 23 May 2019, researchers at the University of Nottingham’s Mixed Reality Lab are partnering with Derby Museums to bring you a virtual reality experience for getting up close and personal with some of the museum objects, then asking you to donate your stories – in VR – about those objects.

Stories are thoughts, opinions, memories, dreams – almost anything, really – that you think is important about these objects that Derby is proud to show off to the world. Our study involves the VR experience (roughly 10 minutes) and a short interview about what you thought of it (also roughly 10 minutes).

Anyone under age 16 will need a parent or guardian to approve in writing and stay with you.

Contact for more information or come by early in the day to sign up for a spot. We’ll be at the Derby Museum and Art Gallery, The Strand, Derby DE1 1BS, 01332 641901.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 727040, GIFT: Meaningful Personalization of Hybrid Virtual Museum Experiences Through Gifting and Appropriation.