Planning Kit for a Quality Site for Small and Medium Sized Museums

go to content

You are in: Home - Heritage - 3D and animated objects

3D and animated objects

The web site of a museum can offer 3D or animated representations of objects as part of its didactic and training function. These tools have a wide range of functions and it is important not to fall into the trap of spectacularising the contents. The realisation of a “virtual” object must be consistent with the aims and functions of the museum institute.

The following are some areas where virtual objects could be useful:

  • showing events and exhibitions of the collections, representations of a specific monument (for example an archaeological excavation) so that the public can understand the value, the importance and the historical and cultural testimony which the work represents;
  • creating virtual tours which allow for juxtaposition of works that are geographically distant;
  • virtual reconstruction of a work which has deteriorated or is fragmented (for example in the case of “ruins” or archaeological strata or virtual restoration);
  • demonstration of a technique or of the realisation of a work through major technical steps;
  • representation of the process of deterioration which a work has undergone through time.

This type of virtual reconstruction offers a valid aid for decodifying and understanding the material. Indeed, a virtual reconstruction may sometimes offer a more powerful aid than either written text or traditional graphic and audio-visual media. Considering that the fields of archaeology, architecture and history of art are strongly dependent on the visual component, it is unlikely that reconstruction or re-integration was constructed using purely conceptual means.

The various levels of reconstruction must be made explicit in order to create quality Site. The following must be specified:

  • level ascertained on the basis of available documentation,
  • level surmised and presented on the basis of clues and/or comparison with other ascertained levels,
  • uncertain level based on critics and documents, in other words, free construction and elaboration.

Representations in the field of conservation and restoration are equally interesting. They allow for resolution of central questions in this field and reconcile the need for conserving the deteriorated monument intact and authentic, while rendering it visually understandable and usable. In this way, the physical conservation of the original object concentrates solely on preservation without addition, and the virtual representation allows for the restoration of perceptive understanding, within the limits of science, without touching the physical authenticity of the original.

The use of animated and 3D representations can contrast with the requirements of accessibility of on-line contents. Slow loading times, the need to down-load plug-ins for viewing, and also the fact that search engines class animations as images and therefore do not index the contents, are all negative aspects of the usability and accessibility of these applications.

Furthermore, the images must be accompanied by tools for use and manipulation (even though imperfect) of the contents on the part of disadvantaged users. A statement of the level of difficulty of accessibility must accompany animations and 3D objects. In order to optimise choice, the planning of animations and 3D objects must include careful analysis of the aims but also of the costs and benefits.

Online examples

  • Istitituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza, Firenze
    (index of animations ) [Last visit 05-07-21]
    (tematic routes) [Last visit 05-07-21]
  • Soprintendenza Archeologica di Pompei
    Il Mondo di Caius. Il portale di didattico. La vita quotidiana
    OpenDocument [Last visit 05-07-21]
  • Fondazione scientifica Querini Stampalia, Venezia ( Virtual Gallery ) [Last visit 05-07-21]
  • Exploratorium: the Museum of Science, Art and Human Perception, San Francisco, USA
    Webcast video and audio [Last visit 07-02-01]
  • Metropolitan Museum of New York
    The Tomb of Perneb [Last visit 05-07-21
    Knights in Central Park (game) [Last visit 05-07-21]
  • MOMA, New York, USA
    Progetti online con applicazioni FLASH [Last visit 07-02-01]
  • Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Netherland
    Virtual visit [Last visit 07-02-01]
  • National Gallery, London
    ( Multimedial game in flash, with accessible version ) [Last visit 05-07-21]
  • Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg
    Virtual visit [Last visit 05-07-21]
    Virtual exhibitions [Last visit 05-07-21]
  • Eternal Egypt [last visit 06-03-31]


© Minerva Project 2005-02, last revision 2007-02-02, edited by WP5, Committee for the development of a prototype of public cultural websites.
URL: www.minervaeurope/structure/workinggroups/userneeds/prototipo/protomuseo/patrimonio/virtuale_e.html