The Virtual Vault
Douglas W. Gann, Preservation Archaeologist and Digital Media Specialist
A joint project of Archaeology Southwest and the Arizona State Museum (ASM), the Virtual Vault is a breakthrough interactive application that has the potential to transform museology and bolster the preservation of heritage objects. Based around a technologically innovative method for quickly and affordably producing photorealistic digital models of objects and structures, the Vault will “house,” or serve, digital representations of a significant portion of ASM’s whole vessel collection in an interactive exhibition setting and over the Internet.
The Vault will go far beyond static electronic exhibit modules that depict a vessel and list its type and ware designation, description, dating, and function—instead, it is being developed as a fully interactive, layered information resource. Researchers will be able to view a vessel from all angles and make accurate measurements by manipulating the model onscreen. Viewers will be able to hear curators, archaeologists, and artists share information about the pottery, and in some cases, they will be able to enter a virtual reconstruction of the landscape, site, and room where a pot was found.