Culture is future » Innovation and digital


Always further – Virtual museum

virtualmuseumVirtual museum, what are we talking about?

With the introduction of digital technologies in our everyday life, no one is surprised that museums turn to the new technologies to introduce public to their collections. Virtual museum is becoming a digital service used by the museum institutions for a more efficient communication and promotion towards the potential visitors. In spite of striking technological results, virtual museum has not yet reached the level of expectation of the Internet users.

The presentation of the collections is often lacking any kind of staging. Thus, the projects of virtual museums often take the shape of on-line catalogs or 360° virtual visits. But, the virtual museum is above all a museum, of which one of the main missions is exhibition. The Google Art Project is a good example of a technologically efficient project, but, however, that cannot be considered as a 2.0 museum. Thanks to high technology, Internet users can take a closer look on famous paintings kept in the main museums of the world. The visitors can appreciate the brushstrokes of the artist as if they were in front of the masterpiece. But one cannot talk here about museum 2.0 because no virtual museography has been organized to exhibit paintings.

If the museum 2.0 seems still often at the dead end, some rare virtual museums are offering to the Internet users a unique, totally digital, “museum” experience. The Virtual Museum of Iraq shows, for example, the archaeological collections of the Bagdad museum in a true virtual scenery. With this web site, the virtual museum finds its real expression.

When virtual takes over archaeological museum

The collections kept in the museum are showing the extraordinary material culture of the first oriental civilizations but currently, it is difficult to go to Bagdad to visit the Archaeological Museum of the Iraqi capital. The creation of the Virtual Museum of Iraq’s site, outcome of a long collaboration between Iraqi researchers and Italian archaeologists, gives us today the possibility to discover the heritage treasures of the museum, from our computer.

The website, conceived by the National center of the Italian research, allows visiting the archeological collections in virtual museographic areas with a real staging effort. From a main hall, eight galleries are allowing to discover pieces of from specific historical periods (Prehistoric to Islamic period). In interactive and playful scenery, typical items of each period are presented on bases, on shelves or directly hung on the wall, like they could be in the Bagdad Museum. Models, maps and archaeological reconstructions are also staged for a more effective mediation. One can zoom in each item to see them closer or to obtain additional information (texts or videos).

Virtual museum is nowadays an asset for a better knowledge’s diffusion, a privileged tool of mediation and communication too. However, virtual visiting does not replace the direct confrontation with museum’s pieces. The museum 2.0 artefacts can only be seen in relative dimensions one from another. For example, the great lamassu of Khorsabad, winged bulls four meters high, look really less impressive on our screens!


To go further

Virtual Museum of Iraq Website 

Antinucci Francesco, Musei Virtuali, Laterza, Roma, 2007.


On the same subjet

Always further - Museums

Always further - Museums & the Web

Always further - Antic culture and 3D: the Kheops pyramid construction theory


A contribution of l'ESC Dijon/Marie Habert

 Credits: Portal of the Virtual Museum of Iraq. © The Virtual Museum of Iraq