Museum Exhibit Ideas for Virtual Antarctic Historic Hut Experience
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree LevelPostgraduate Certificate
Degree NamePostgraduate Certificate in Antarctic Studies
The aim of this report was to investigate museum exhibit ideas for a Virtual Antarctic historic hut experience. The author's one-line response to probably the most important question on the GCAS course application form is reproduced below: 2. Indicate !tow, 011 completion oftlte course, you intend to use the experience btfuture postgraduate research, education, community work or in your career. Since I work at HIT Lab NZ, perhaps we could see if we could put together some type of interactive exhibit to help educate people on Antarctica. With this background information in mind, the author was contacted by Nigel Watson from the Antarctic Heritage Trust (AHT) at the beginning of the GCAS course. He suggested a topic idea for the personal project dealing with virtually visualizing the historic huts. Nigel is interested in providing "virtual access to showcase the Antarctic historic huts and the Antarctic 'heroic-era' legacy" (Personal Communication, Watson, 2004). A GCAS 2001/2002 student conducted a literature review on the subject that did a nice job of reviewing what was currently available on Antarctica at the time, various technologies that are available, and suggestions on what could be done in the future to create a much better virtual hut experience (Hyde, 2002). The author of this report assumes familiarity with the terminology that was nicely explained in Peter Hyde's literature review and would suggest reading it prior to this report if unfamiliar with any terms mentioned. This report focused on what could be done in a museum setting and an attempt was made to provide some actual Antarctic related samples that could be used to pursue project funding. There is information about HIT Lab NZ (www.hitlabnz.org) towards the end of the report but mention is made throughout the report on ways this University of Canterbury lab could contribute towards a project such as this. There are 34 historic interest sites in the Ross Sea Region that the AHT recognizes (www.heritage-antarctica.org/index.cfm/default) under 3 different category classifications. The AHTs main focus is currently on four of the huts and they are: 1) Cape Adare Huts, Northern Victoria Land (British Southern Cross Expedition 1898 - 1900, led by Carsten Borchgrevink) 2) Discovery Hut, Ross Island, Hut Point (National Antarctic Expedition 1901- 04, led by Commander RF Scott) 3) Nimrod Hut, Ross Island, Cape Royds (British Antarctic (Nimrod) Expedition 1907 - 09, led by Ernest Shackleton) 4) Terra Nova Hut, Ross Island, Cape Evans (British Antarctic Expedition 1910- 1913, led by Captain RF Scott) For some more insight into the huts, refer to the GCAS 2003/2004 Syndicate report that investigated the question whether the huts should be removed, repaired, or restored (Evans et al, 2004). The authors of this report passed on a personal communication from J. Heap about comments that were made in a case where an attempt was made to get grant money. Questions where asked about who would actually get to see the huts located in Antarctica and a discussion followed dealing with creating a Virtual Reality experience so the general public would be included (Evans et al, 2004, p. 43). This author's GCAS 2004/2005 Syndicate project report investigated the question "Raising the bar for an International Polar Year 2007-2008, how much will this IPY raise the bar compared to IGY?" (available from Gateway Antarctica). The official website for the International Polar Year (IPY) 2007-2008 can be found at: www.ipy.org. An Education, Outreach, and Communication (EOC) Committee has been established for the IPY. They have set up five target areas for education and outreach initiatives that include school children, potential new polar researches, Arctic communities, the general public, and decision-makers (ICSU IPY 2007-2008 Planning Group, 2004). Creating a Virtual Antarctic experience for a museum to showcase during IPY would represent a perfect time to get the message out about the historic huts. The huts could be part of a bigger virtual world that included 3D-models of certain key buildings from Scott Base, McMurdo, and the South Pole as well as key land formations such as Mount Erebus. The IPY offers a perfect catalyst to pursue project funding as there are currently 29 nations planning to be involved (as of January 2005). There exists the potential to put together a traveling museum exhibition that would be experienced by several thousand people during the timeframe that IPY is taking place. Not only would the message get out about the Antarctic huts to the public but it also provides an opportunity to generate revenue. A great deal of the project time went into working with software and trying to make small demos. So in addition to the screen capture pictures in the report, there are also seven places that refer to a movie clip (provided on a CD, places highlighted by a"*" at the beginning of a line) since a variety of software was used which would have to be installed to view otherwise. Note that the software used to record the video only captured at 15 frames per second (fps) and so the motion appears jerky at times but the demos run smoothly on the source computer.