A virtual museum done right

So there’s always been lots of talk (and perhaps somewhat less action :) ) about how virtual worlds are potentially great delivery vehicles for education, and schools, and museums, and all like that there.

There are a number of different ways to approach the idea, from wild “pretty much Not Possible In Real Life” things like that amazing and/or disturbing Virtual Schizophrenia build from the other year, to simple “upload my 2D art and put it on the walls of a virtual room” galleries, to novel interactive things that are about other things and that are yet to be built.

As an example of how to build a virtual museum about real-life artworks and artifacts, I can’t recommend highly enough the Peter Vos Museum in Second Life, as covered briefly in these two notes in NWN, and as covered most visually and memorably in this Yesikita Coppola machinima:

The machinima is very well done, and if for some reason you can’t get to the museum itself, by all means watch it.

But if you can get to the museum yourself, I’d suggest doing that first! Or at least second. :) I went the other day (and then got sick and almost forgot that I’d wanted to weblog about it), and am glad I did.

I knew nothing about Peter Vos before visiting the museum, and now I feel both fascinated and well-informed, as well as having come home with some nice souvenirs. The museum is a lovely build, perfectly fit to the purpose, and taking advantage of the SL environment in subtle but effective ways; the lighting is dark with focused lights, as a museum should be, the synchronized slide projectors are definitely synchronized slide projectors, making just the right soft sounds, the little peepholes that let you examine some of the smaller works close up are perfect little peepholes, that zoom your default camera position right in where it ought to be, while making your avatar bend in just the right “museum visitor peering into one of those little peepholes” pose.

About the art itself I won’t say much; it should be experienced. :) Nothing conventional, many many birds, and considerable surreality.

(The story behind the museum, the connections between the artist, the museum builder, and the machinimatographer, are quite a story in themselves, but I’ll let you discover that for yourself also!)

I would commend this both to anyone as a museum to be visited, and to anyone thinking of building a virtual museum (or gallery, or school, or…) as an example of one very effective way to do it. It’s just one point in the (big!) space of possible approaches, but it’s a very well done one, and definitely worth a visit.

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