The Virtual Past is a Keystone for the Future of Museums

The main objective of the project „The Virtual Past is a Keystone for the Future of Museums” is creation of an international website where anyone interested can find both the scientific and educational information about the most outstanding collections of museums in Latvia, Lithuania and Belarus, as well as materials from the linguo-territorial dictionary, collected by Rezekne Higher Education Institution. The project consists of several parts, the main of which is the website itself along with information, virtual exposure of the Latgalian cultural museum and four interactive games, reflecting the theme of museums and RHEI research. Games are available both on the website and in the form of independent mobile applications for the most popular platforms for free.

About Project

Project Manager:
Edgar Rukmanis
Project start date:
Project Duration:
7 months
Platform:
.NET, PHP
Basic technologies:
C#, Unity, WordPress
“MS-IDI” won public purchase competition for „The Virtual Past is a Keystone for the Future of Museums” (№ 1LV-758 (LLB-2-269))", offering the lowest cost. When the contest was proceeding, we developed demo version for potential product, following the required specifications. That allowed us to successfully start the development, as soon as the results were announced for the competition. Project partners were from Latvia, Lithuania and Belorussia, collaborating with project executor - our company “MS-IDI”.

Partners

Project partners were from Latvia, Lithuania and Belorussia, collaborating with project executor - our company “MS-IDI”.
Latgale Culture and History Museum
Latvia
Latgale Culture and History Museum is founded in 1959 as a branch of Ludza Local History Museum and it is located in a building that was a place for Central Latgale Museum until the World War II.
In 1961 the museum started to work independently as Rēzekne Local History Museum. Soon after, it opened its own first exposition.
Rezekne Higher Education Institution (RHEI)
Latvia
Rezekne Higher Education Institution (RHEI) was established on the basis of the branches of the University of Latvia and Riga Technical University on July 1, 1993. For all that higher education traditions in Rezekne were way before: in 1922 there was Pedagogy School, but from 1925 to 1994 Rezekne State Teachers’ Institute.
Kėdainiai Regional Museum
Lithaunia
Kėdainiai Regional Museum – one of the oldest in Lithuania – was established in 1922. The expositions of the Museum and its branches tell about the life of the private Kėdainiai town of the 15th–19th centuries, its confessional communities.
Museum Maxim Bahdanovich (in Grodno)
Belorussia
In this house from 1892 to 1896 lived Belarusian poet Mikhail Bahdanovich with family. Museum opened in 1986. The exhibition introduces the literary department with a view of Grodno. The house has four memorial rooms: an office of his father, mothers room, kids room, living room, as well as the department of “literary Grodno region: past and present.” There are photos and postcards form 19th and 20th centuries on the walls showing the surroundings from Maxim’s childhood.
MS-IDI
Latvia
MS-IDI is the information technology company based in the city of Rezekne, Latvia. It was founded in 2010.
Project deadline was 5 months, during this time necessary analysis, requested specification and documentation was made, design and prototype development, coding, testing etc. Whole development period was split in 5 phases. In the end of every phase a report was made and delivered to main project partner RHEI. Every development phase was on time or even earlier.
Development process was organized by Agile methodology: every week analytics and project management met with main partner to report what has been done and to schedule next week’s work amount.
For the website development we used WordPress as it has a built-in plug-ins system, which allows to reduce development time. In spite of this, a large amount of work on plugins adaptation was done specifically under the project needs. The visual theme of the website was created as a result of joint work of both designers of MS-IDI and Rezekne Higher Education Institution. Great amount of information, e.g., exposition galleries and descriptions (more than 2000 units) were imported from documents that prepared project participants. After the launch of the website, project partners refresh the information and edit it using administration’s panel.
Website’s options, worth mentioning
Every project participant can modify moderator, as well as administrator.
Opportunity to select museum exhibit descriptions using search filters.
Websites and interactive game statistic data result integration in administrator’s dash-board.
United user interface (API) for information exchange between website and games.
Opportunity to play interactive games in web browser.

Games

Project partners were from Latvia, Lithuania and Belorussia, collaborating with project executor - our company “MS-IDI”.
Transformations of clay
Latgale Culture and History Museum
A Creatively educational game “Clay transformations” will make it possible to become virtual potters – lords of clay, experiencing clay transformation starting from clay preparation process to the artwork of fired clay. Every visitor may choose whether just to make potter’s ware, or also at each earthenware making stage to find out a variety of interesting facts about the pottery craft and its specifics.
Re-create the Arnets’ House
Kedainiai Regional Museum
In the gameplay, a player has to re-create the Arnets’ House choosing right construction element or material. Choosing right construction element or material, a player finds out how local material was used and how it influenced buildings’ architecture.
The House of Secrets
Maxim Bahdanovich Hrodna Museum
The aim of the game is to get to know about Maxim’s childhood, about the Hrodna period of family life and the then Hrodna in the most accessible way. In other words, to reflect the educational environment that affected the emotional and spiritual development of the outstanding Belarusian poet.
Go there, don’t know where, bring it, don’t know what
Rezekne Higher Education Institution
The aim of the game – travelling through the towns and villages of Latgale, to identify the most notable distinguishing marks of these places, to learn some apt Latgalian expression and to test own deductive abilities – how to get the prize awarded by the “wheel of fortune”.
High popularity has gained game “Transformations of clay” (more than 50 000 downloads in first 6 months), that can be play not only with mouse, keyboard or a device with touchscreen, but also with motion sensor SoftKincet.
This is not the first project where interactive videogames has been made, but a lot of new knowledge was acquired in 3D modeling, physical object mechanics etc. Because of the game engine – Unity3D, it is available on many platforms. All code has been written using C# programming language.
During this project, a virtual tour of ceramics exhibition for Latgale Culture and History Museum was made, which is available on the website. Virtual tour development: shooting a series of photos, correction, montaging and making it public. One exhibition room’s visualization required 20-30 photos. Virtual tour contains 7 panoramas that are united in one virtual exposition.

Cooperation

Collaboration between MS-IDI and project participants is continuing after the finished project. “MS-IDI” has taken part in multiple participant organized international seminaries and presented project results. Interactive games were shown during the seminary and got great response from user of all ages.
After gathering the reviews from audience, the developer was able to improve the games. In the end we are satisfied with the accomplished and new experience.