Digital Heritage Installations

KRIII Installation (small)We’ve had a few people ask us how we present our digital fly-throughs of historic buildings and we realized that we’d not actually uploaded any images of installations in museum and visitor centre settings yet so here’s our Greyfriars animation for Leicester’s King Richard III visitor centre in-situ along with the physical orientation model that it’s designed to accompany. The dias for the physical model is low enough for even the smallest visitor to be able to see what’s going on and the screen is positioned at the end of a long-ish approach so the visitor gets the full effect of the big projection as they walk towards it. This is a front projection system with a high quality projector ceiling mounted about 5 meters from the screen. The screen acts as a visual focus on the circulation route to lead visitors in the right direction and is next to a 1st floor bay window which allows visitors to see the real site of Greyfriars friary, having just seen the digital reconstruction. Plenty of space around the installation means that school parties can all get a good view and of course there are volunteers on hand who use the fly-through as narrative aid when explaining about the site and there is space for them to stand beside the projection. The features shown in physical model are carefully coordinated with those shown in the digital fly-through so that key buildings that are still visible in today’s Leicester are easily identifiable and can help visitors form a mental map of where they are in relation to reconstruction of the medieval town. There’s a “You are here” label in part of the fly-through which shows the new visitor centre in relation both the medieval town and modern Leicester. Below is another image of one of our installations, this time in De Montfort University’s new heritage centre, showing the St Mary of the Annunciation digital reconstruction, again linked to the story of the death of Richard III. This is a widescreen LCD display with a looping series of still images and benefits from the low-light conditions of the centre which is in the basement of De Montfort University’s Hawthorne Building. This allows the vibrant colours and clarity of architectural detail that are possible with digital reconstruction on LCD screens to come to the fore. It allows visitors to get up close to the screen and has been particularly useful for discussing detailed aspects of the buildings and relating the reconstructions to the surviving crypt arches which have been preserved just a few feet away. Both installations handle the presentation of ecclesiastical buildings in different ways, giving very difference senses of intimacy (in the case of the DMU heritage centre) and openness (in the case of the King Richard III visitor’s centre).

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About Douglas Cawthorne

Reader in Digital Heritage at De Montfort University.
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