How we get to building an online VR exhibition
Planning with each partner’s goal for appropriate themes for the exhibition
Major software used to construct the exhibition
a | Background
Responding to the unexpected
The initial collaborative exhibition plan was a multi-point interactive physical exhibit throughout Virginia Tech Newman Library and Art & Architecture Library in Fall 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of the exhibition was moved online. The challenges faced for the exhibition were new. However, it also opens up windows for me to present the exhibit in a fun and interactive way.
“Let’s build something everyone enjoys and hide the Easter eggs in the exhibition.”
b | Themes
The exhibition is unique and challenging in a few ways, one of which is that it involves cross-unit, cross-library, cross-institutions collaboration. Hence, there are the goals that we need to attain to satisfy each partner.
Southwest Virginia Digital Archive
Increasing brand awareness and promoting digital collections
Special Collection and University Archives
Promoting architecture related collections in the unit
Art & Architecture Library
Providing information on Cowgill’s history and founders
The key success factor for the exhibition is extending the total time users stop at an exhibit. To stop users from using their phone and start interacting with the exhibit, the themes for both physical and online exhibit are “powerful wow effect”, “unexpected”, and “fun”.
Innovation | Technology | Fun
c | Software
Other software used
Photoshop, Google Sheets, Google Doc, bitly
A free online app used to construct the SDVA VR exhibition.
An accessible alternative to the virtual exhibit
Virtual Reality Exhibition online app
where the exhibition is built and hosted
Artsteps is a free online app for creating VR exhibitions. It comes with a three-dimensional object library and is viewable on a browser. However, it also has some disadvantages such as difficulty in reading text from the tour, unable to embed links within the exhibition for redirecting users to get a clearer view of the digital object. Last but not least, just like any other VR software, the VR exhibition on artsteps is inaccessible.
The exhibition was first built using the artsteps template. However, it became apparent that the space in the predefined template wasn’t enough for the exhibition collection size. Numerous floor plans were sketched and tested to fit the collection size and traffic flow. As the fundamental floor plan was adopted, extensive quality control was conducted continuously. Quality control was mostly performed in a first-person view to evaluate smoothness of traffic flow, image size, image color tone, text font size, wall color, atmosphere, the environment of the exhibition, i.e. lighting reflected on images matches with the setting of the image in the virtual exhibit.
Books and handwritten documents are difficult to read in the VR exhibition. To solve the issue, the items’ unique shortened URLs were embedded into the items’ Description to redirect users to the SVDA platform where participants can have a clearer view of the document or use a two-page view function just as one would read a book, with two pages aligned next to each other.
Shortened URLs for 3D objects in the exhibition were provided to redirect users to interact with the 3D objects hosted on SketchFab.
3D specimens were hidden in the exhibition as Easter eggs for users to explore around the exhibition.
This ocean wave sound was added as the exhibition background sound to resemble the Mediterranean settings even more with the exhibition background.
Step by step instructions on building a VR exhibition on artsteps.
Chapter 24: Creating VR Exhibits Based on Digital Collections (pp. 142-150).
Accessible version of online exhibit
default digital library platform
The SVDA platform is built on Omeka. All the digital objects displayed in the VR exhibit (except the three-dimensional objects) can also be found on the specially created Omeka exhibit page. Redirect URLs of digital objects are provided in the VR exhibition as well for utilization of the image viewer with paging variations, download images, or citations.
SVDA VR Exhibition
Quick links to the exhibition on different apps.
Links open in a new tab.