Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Virtual Reality Captures the Exhibition: We Are Nature
Using virtual reality to preserve an exhibition for students, families, funders and the future
The museum commissioned the VR tour to extend access to the exhibition beyond its 10-month run; to give museum peers a realistic and easily accessible experience of how this topic could be presented in their institution; and to advance their strategic plan by convincing funders to support an expanded version of the show.
Photogrammetry Audio Production Video Production
Visitors and colleagues all over the world have a portal to the museum’s physical space."
The Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh wanted to create a virtual experience of We Are Nature: Living in the Anthropocene, an exhibition that looks at how human behavior is impacting the Earth and creating what some scientists call a new era. The exhibition invited visitors to explore the evidence and to consider how the climate changes that are occurring are irrefutable and affecting their lives in very practical ways.
From the beginning it was important to provide an immersive VR experience that could be viewed in a VR headset as well as a 2D version available via web link. You can download the app from the Oculus app store here, or view the desktop version here.
There had to be two options for moving through the exhibition as well – a self-guided tour and a shorter, highlights tour. There also had to be an audio component to help visitors learn the stories represented by the carefully chosen objects they were seeing.
First we scanned the 7,000 sq.ft gallery space, capturing over 150 HD 360º panoramas and stitched together the resulting images. Our partner, GuidiGO, developed the UX to guide visitors to specific locations, a-v assets and labels. Visitors can also take part in a virtual survey and see how visitors to the physical exhibition responded.
We worked with Becca Shreckengast, Director of Exhibition Experience at CMNH at the time, to develop the script for the audio tour. Because the virtual experience is different from the physical one, we produced an introductory video to help virtual visitors understand the journey they were about to take.
The VR version can be shared fluidly through an email link or from the Oculus app store. It is a great distance learning tool for teachers and homeschoolers and has extended the life of the exhibition indefinitely for people who couldn’t get there. It will be available, as an archive, for years to come.
MediaCombo was constantly thinking of how to make the VR experience of We Are Nature as vivid and compelling as possible. With the limited resources at our disposal they did a terrific job with the audio portion, adding content and context to enhance the story we wanted to tell. Working in Virtual Reality was new to me, but I felt confident making decisions with MediaCombo. They really listened and I learned a ton. MediaCombo were a real pleasure to work with.