Removing Borders with Virtual Reality
The latest in modern technology supports the oldest and most human form of communication – storytelling. Storytelling is at the heart of what we do at the Museum and virtual reality (VR) allows us to take visitors on a journey that starts inside our galleries and extends across the globe. Virtual reality pushes the boundaries of progressive storytelling and education, placing the visitor at the centre of an experience.
For our Empowering Women exhibition, our internal production team traveled to Guatemala. We visited the villages, workplaces and homes of Maya women in weaving communities, resulting in the creation of Weaving a Better Future VR. This project seeks to inspire people with the story of the Maya women of Guatemala, who hope their ancestral weaving traditions can create a better future for their children. These women use cooperative work to make a living, preserve their culture and heal from human rights violations.
Imagine being near a volcanic lake in Guatemala, or sitting in a kitchen while families prepare a meal. The VR experience will also transport you to the centre of a courtyard with women of different generations weaving together while children play in the background. The use of VR provides visitors the ability to have a deeper understanding as they are transported in time and place through immersive 360-degree video. It creates awareness that goes beyond examining an artifact or reading text on a wall.
We can experience direct, meaningful storytelling through this type of technology. Placing yourself where these women work and live, looking at everyday objects, serves as an access point to understand how they have advanced human rights in their communities. It is a unique opportunity to tell stories of the empowerment that has led these women to claim some of the rights that have been denied to them in the past. Exploring a Guatemalan textile-weaving cooperative in virtual reality, we have the opportunity to learn about how these women overcome rights challenges through an experience like no other.
Visitors can take this immersive journey using Gear VR headsets available in the exhibition with regular admission. The headsets are very popular, so visitors are advised to book a headset time when they arrive at the Museum. To extend the availability of Weaving a Better Future you will need to install the free Google Cardboard app for iOS or Android, then install the free Weaving a Better Future app for iOS or Android. Cardboard lets you experience VR in a fun and affordable way, and works with almost any smartphone on iOS or Android.