A number of museums and galleries have begun to experiment with the possibilities offered by virtual reality (VR) and its related technologies, including extremely prestigious institutions such as the British Museum. The latest to join the trend is the National Museum of Finland, who are using VR to turn back to clock.
With the opening of the new VR exhibit, visitors to the museum will be able to step back in time to the year 1863 by donning a VR headset and walking inside R. W. Ekman’s painting ‘The Opening of he Diet 1863 by Alexander II’.
The exhibit lets visitors get a unique view of the Diet of Finland, the legislative body that existed from 1809 to 1906. They will be able to speak with the emperor and representatives of the different social classes, or visit the Hall of Mirrors in what was formerly the Imperial Palace, now known as the Presidential Palace.
The VR experience forms part of a wider exhibition formed around 1860s Finland as an autonomous Grand Duchy of Russia. The aim of the exhibition is to blend historical artefacts with a digital world to give visitors the feeling of walking into history.
The VR experience was built by Zoan Oy, who are the largest VR studio in Finland. The company have made it their mission to make Finland into the most virtual society in the world.
“It is a unique work even on the international level because it does more than just present events visually. We have gone a step further with history professionals, analysing what each person might have thought that day. It allows visitors to feel like they were a part of the events of the parliament session,” says Zoan CEO Miikka Rosendahl, “The project was also ground-breaking for us. We have been building the living painting since May with around twenty modellers and animators. The project has also involved voice and motion capture actors, a director and dramaturge as well as museum staff who have helped determine historical facts. I hope that, in the future, this work will be a part of Helsinki’s virtual cultural offering that people can experience from anywhere in the world.”