As part of my Getty Research Institute Fellowship in 2011, I learned how to use video game engines to make virtual museums. Taking the dozens of objects I had digitized over the last few years, especially those from the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, I created a demo program of a virtual gallery in which one could walk around using standard video game controls (W,A,S,D for movement, mouse for camera look), and click on various objects to read about them. If you right-click you can choose fullscreen. I also explored the abilities in this mockup for displaying two-dimensional art (i.e., paintings), and for interacting with objects. For example, certain objects will actually shatter when you touch them!, and the pieces will fall with natural gravity. I also created as iOS version that plays on an iPad, so that I could learn mobile programming. I hope to expand this demo in the future and make a classroom exercise in which student could create their own gallery show and organize the objects along different themes, and perform original research on objects so they could write their own labels.
Click on the image at left to run the demo.
This isn’t perfect, and the textures and functionality were downgraded in order to play inside the browser plug-in, which you must install first. It plays on OS X or Windows, but will look better if you have a good graphics card. The web-based fonts also have some problems on some systems.