“Museums are more than the stories they tell…they are places that prompt us to be curious.” Says Nicholas Thomas, author of The Return of Curiosity: What Museums are Good for in the 21st Century.
Ayala Museum has always been in the forefront of exploring new ways of presenting Philippine history; starting with the Dioramas in the 1970s to 2015’s Augmented Reality. In keeping with the new role of museums to prompt curiosity, Ayala Museum will once again push the envelope by introducing the first fully immersive Virtual Reality (VR) Experience of Philippine History, bringing to life the most pivotal moments of our nation’s past, allowing the viewer to be in the moment, to have a personal experience that perhaps may lead to a re-evaluation of our country’s past and more importantly our country’s future.
Visitors try the VR technology for the first time
Renowned historian Prof. Ambeth Ocampo was invited on board as the project’s main historical consultant, and selected the execution of Jose Rizal as the first event to receive the VR treatment. “As prime National Hero of the Philippines he can be considered Father of the Nation, a lolo to all of us. His martyrdom is also iconic to all who learned about it in school.”
Historian, Ambeth Ocampo, tells more about the Diorama VR project to the press
At the helm of the story-telling aspect of the project is German filmmaker Marco Biemann. The challenge facing Biemann and his team is to give a fresh perspective to an event that has been narrated numerous times before. “Yes, Rizal’s story has been told many times and in all sorts of styles. Our approach using 360 VR video gives the viewer the opportunity to experience the last moments of Rizal’s life first hand by getting immersed in our rendition of history itself.” Biemann aims to give the audience a more intimate view of Rizal’s last moments.
Behind the project. From L – R: Marco Biemann & Ibba Bernardo (I Am Cardboard Philippines), Mariles Gustilo, Erwin Locsin, Ruel Maranan (Ayala Foundation, Inc.), Ambeth Ocampo, Apple Store Philippines Representative, Pat Mijares & Aldy Katigbak (Ayala Foundation)
He hopes this would spark critical thinking from the audience. “Would I have watched? Would I have shot? Would I have turned around? 360 gives you the freedom to choose what you want to look at. VR lets us create experiences that let the audience explore these (often overlooked) facets of history and at the same time make them search their own, most private thoughts and emotions in regards to the portrayed events.” The hope is also for the viewer to reflect on the ideas of nationhood, freedom, and sacrifice as they finish living that moment of history.
The project brings together the latest in VR technology, world class story-telling, and meticulous historical research to give life to these significant events. The Ayala Museum Diorama VR features a short film shot in full 360 degrees that is then projected through a special Head Mounted Device (HMD) that acts as VR “goggles”. The HMD creates a stereoscopic three-dimensional environment while tracking the viewer’s head movement. This mimics the directional sight of the viewer creating an immersive visual environment.
Behind the 360 VR technology is I AM Cardboard, the leading certified provider of Google Cardboard VR headsets in the world. Headed in the Philippines by Ibba Bernardo, the company’s vision is to have virtual reality experience as accessible to as many people as possible.
Another special facet of the VR project is that the Ayala Museum crowdsourced amateur actors from its social media community to play small roles in the VR film. Professional actors were joined by a vast cast of volunteers from all walks of life and were given the opportunity to be a part of history themselves.
The Ayala Museum Diorama VR will be accessible to the public starting June 20, 2017 at the Diorama exhibition at the 2F Gallery. Usage is covered by standard museum admission fees. June 20, 2017. Ayala Museum is located at Makati Avenue corner De La Rosa street, Greenbelt Complex, Makati City, Philippines. Visit www.ayalamuseum.org or e-mail [email protected] for more details about Ayala Museum VR and the museum’s other programs and exhibitions.