Virtual heritage

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Virtual heritage or cultural heritage and technology is the body of works dealing with information and communication technologies and their application to cultural heritage,[1] such as virtual archaeology.[2] It aims to restore ancient cultures as real (virtual) environments where users can immerse.[3]

Virtual heritage and cultural heritage have independent meanings: cultural heritage refers to sites, monuments, buildings and objects "with historical, aesthetic, archaeological, scientific, ethnological or anthropological value",[4] whereas virtual heritage refers to instances of these within a technological domain, usually involving computer visualization of artefacts or virtual reality environments.

First use[edit]

The first use of virtual heritage as a museum exhibit, and the derivation of the name virtual tour, was in 1994[5] as a museum visitor interpretation, providing a 'walk-through' of a 3D reconstruction of Dudley Castle in England as it was in 1550.[6] This consisted of a computer controlled laserdisc based system designed by British-based engineer Colin Johnson. It is a little-known fact that one of the first users of virtual heritage was Queen Elizabeth II, when she officially opened the visitor centre in June 1994. Because the Queen's officials had requested titles, descriptions and instructions of all activities, the system was named 'Virtual Tour', being a cross between virtual reality and royal tour.[7]


One technology that is frequently employed in virtual heritage applications is augmented reality (AR), which is used to provide on-site reconstructions of archaeological sites[8] or artefacts. An example is the lifeClipper project, a Swiss commercial tourism and mixed reality urban heritage project.[9] Using HMD technology, users walking the streets of Basel can see cultured AR video characters and objects as well as oddly-shaped stencils.[9]

Many virtual heritage projects focus on the tangible aspects of cultural heritage, for example 3D modelling, graphics and animation. In doing so, they often overlook the intangible aspects of cultural heritage associated with objects and sites, such as stories, performances and dances. The tangible aspects of cultural heritage are not inseparable from the intangible and one method for combining them is the use of virtual heritage serious games,[10] such as the 'Digital Songlines' and 'Virtual Songlines'[11] which modified computer game technology to preserve, protect and present the cultural heritage of Aboriginal Australian Peoples.[12] There have been numerous applications of digital models being used to engage the public and encourage involvement in built heritage activities and discourse.[13]

Place-Hampi is another example of a virtual heritage project. It applies co-evolutionary systems to show a cultural presence using stereoscopic rendering of the landscape of Hampi landscape, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Karnataka, India.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ann Marie Sullivan, Cultural Heritage & New Media: A Future for the Past, 15 J. MARSHALL REV. INTELL. PROP. L. 604 (2016)
  2. ^ Bawaya, M. (2010), "Virtual Archaeologists Recreate Parts of Ancient Worlds", Science, 327 (5962): 140–141, Bibcode:2010Sci...327..140B, doi:10.1126/science.327.5962.140, PMID 20056870
  3. ^ Chang, Maiga; Kuo, Rita; Kinshuk; Chen, Gwo-Dong; Hirose, Michitaka (2009). Learning by Playing. Game-based Education System Design and Development: 4th International Conference on E-learning, Edutainment 2009, Banff, Canada, August 9-11, 2009, Proceedings. Berlin: Springer Science & Business Media. pp. 52. ISBN 9783642033636.
  4. ^ UNESCO (2008). "Application Guide". Applications to UNESCO-Vocations Patrimoine Fellowships for World Heritage site managers. UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Retrieved 4 May 2012.
  5. ^ Susan S. Lukesh (February 1995). "Imaging The Past". CSA Newsletter, Feb. '95. Center for the Study of Architecture. Retrieved 3 May 2012.
  6. ^ Boland, P.; Johnson, C. (1996), "Archaeology as computer visualization: 'Virtual tours' of Dudley Castle c. 1550", in Higgins, T.; Main, P.; Lang, J. (eds.), Imaging the Past: Electronic Imaging and Computer Graphics in Museums and Archaeology, Occasional Papers, vol. 114, British Museum Press, pp. 227–234, ISBN 978-0-86159-114-5
  7. ^ Colin Johnson. "Virtual Tours of Dudley Castle archive". Retrieved 3 May 2012.
  8. ^ "ARCHEOGUIDE – Augmented Reality-based Cultural Heritage On-site Guide". ARCHEOGUIDE Project. 2002. Retrieved 23 May 2012.
  9. ^ a b Champion, Erik (9 March 2016). Critical Gaming: Interactive History and Virtual Heritage. Oxon: Routledge. p. 199. ISBN 9781317157397.
  10. ^ Anderson, E. F.; McLoughlin, L.; Liarokapis, F.; Peters, C.; Petridis, P.; de Freitas, S. (2009), Serious Games in Cultural Heritage, VAST-STAR, Short and Project Proceedings, 10th VAST International Symposium on Virtual Reality, Archaeology and Cultural Heritage (Eurographics VAST '09), Faculty of ICT, University of Malta, pp. 29–48
  11. ^ Brett Leavy. "Digital Songlines". Virtual Songlines (Bilbie Labs). Retrieved 22 November 2018.
  12. ^ Wyeld, T.G.; Carroll, J.; Gibbons, C.; Ledwich, B.; Leavy, B.; Hills, J.; Docherty, M. (2007), "Doing Cultural Heritage Using the Torque Game Engine: Supporting Indigenous Storytelling in a 3D Virtual Environment", International Journal of Architectural Computing, 5 (2): 418–435, doi:10.1260/1478-0771.5.2.418, hdl:1959.3/54849, S2CID 85537356
  13. ^ Laing, Richard (2020). "Built heritage modelling and visualisation: the potential to engage with issues of heritage value and wider participation". Developments in the Built Environment. 4: 100017. doi:10.1016/j.dibe.2020.100017.
  14. ^ Kalay, Yehuda; Kvan, Thomas; Affleck, Janice (2008). New Heritage: New Media and Cultural Heritage. Oxon: Routledge. pp. 279. ISBN 9780415773560.

Further reading[edit]

  • Michael Falser, Monica Juneja (eds.). 'Archaeologizing' Heritage? Transcultural Entanglements between Local Social Practices and Global Virtual Realities. Heidelberg, New York: Springer (2013), ISBN 978-3-642-35870-8.

External links[edit]