Employing Real-Time Game Technology for Immersive Experience (VR and Videogames) for all at MAIO Museum: Museum of WWII Stolen Artworks

Employing Real-Time Game Technology for Immersive Experience (VR and Videogames) for all at MAIO Museum: Museum of WWII Stolen Artworks

Giuliana Geronimo (Streamcolors srl, Italy) and Salvatore Giannella (Independent Researcher, Italy)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1796-3.ch013

Abstract

3D real time game technologies create an opportunity to design interactive immersive experiences developing affordable, easy-to-use, and incredible virtual worlds for Museums. This chapter presents the potential of these technologies for the development of edutainment content for their visitors at MAIO - Museum of Art Taken Hostage in Cassina de' Pecchi (Milan). The Museum presents the story of 1,623 masterpieces such as Michelangelo, Tiziano, Raffaello, and Canaletto that were stolen in Italy during World War II and never found again. Visitors can explore the artworks through 2 installations: MAIO Virtual Museum, through VR inside an oniric 3D environment, and MAIO Play, a multiplayer video game.
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Methodology

Between 2016 and 2018, in order to identify the number of works still prisoners of war (1,622), the authors, commissioned by the MAIO Museum, carried out enormous research work to update the list drawn up by Rodolfo Siviero1, on commission from the Italian government in the first post-war period. Works of art already identified by Siviero as having been returned to Italy immediately after the war or illegally exhibited abroad were excluded. The Carabinieri Headquarters for the Protection of Cultural Heritage (TPC), is the most efficient military police force in the world for the protection of works of art, have been contacted for an updated list of recently found works of art. Museums, ecclesiastical institutes and the common owners of the missing masterpieces have been contacted, asking for confirmation of the theft. Books and newspaper articles on the subject were read. In this way, the list of 1649 prisoner-of-war works from Siviero has been updated to 1622, excluding the 27 known masterpieces (Tables 1-4).

After updating the list, the authors identified the most emblematic works among those still prisoners of war and those found and asked the owners for permission to use the high-resolution images of the works for educational purposes, especially thinking of applications for the new generations.

Thus was born the gallery of 33 images of the works of art visible at MAIO:

27 images in black and white (masterpieces still prisoners of war) and 5 in color (masterpieces found).

To tell this page of history to the new generations, so that they could become aware of the theme, we chose a strategy that, at the same time, could allow you to discover and reinvent in a fun way the initial content.

In fact, the innovative use of technology and the fun component stimulates curiosity and users' interest (...). However, the goal is not only for fun, but to improve the learning experience of the users2.

An artistic and technical challenge3 entrusted to the digital art studio Streamcolors chosen for its aesthetic signature and for its experience in finding creative, unconventional, simple and attractive solutions thanks to its long experience in the gaming industry, in 3D modelling and in the pioneer use of the Unreal engine of Epic Games (a software framework with a rendering engine to display textured 3D models and a physical engine for the interaction of objects4) in cultural sector.

In order to involve the public, especially thinking about the needs of today's public, we have chosen not to create a virtual museum application, but to create a set of engaging, educational and immersive experiences by developing a tool for creative reworking of images (Stream Machine software developed by Streamcolors) for the creation of personalized postcards, a Virtual Reality application and a multiplayer video game available on site:

active experiences drive the individual’s intention to continue participating actively after the visit, seeking information and revisiting the museum, following it on social networks and making recommendations on opinion pages5.

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Background

The tools and experiences, developed for the MAIO Museum, to help visitors to become an active explorer, reflect 3 of the main trends of study of the theme Digital Heritage: co-creation to unleash creativity, Virtual Reality and videogames.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Digital Heritage: Cultural heritage made available to the public through the use of technologies.

Mirror Neurons: Nerve cells that are activated by imitation. In this way, the neurons reflect, like a mirror, that which they see in the mind of another.

Monuments men: Heroes who saved the masterpieces of art during the wars risking their lives.

Audience Engagement: Practises and installations to augment the participation of visitors during a museum visit. In the case study of Museum MAIO to engage the new generations the digital art studio Streamcolors developed the MAIO PLAY and the MAIO VR.

Stolen art: Art stolen during the Second World War in Italy by the Nazis and not yet found.

Italian masterpieces: Works by the most important Italian painters, sculptors or craftsmen.

Siviero Rodolfo: The 007 art commissioned by the Italian government in the first post-war period for the recovery of these artistic treasures disappeared.

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