VWHL Presents to Chancellor McRobbie 10 Years After Founding
By: Virtual World Heritage Laboratory
August 28, 2023
On August 8, 2023, the Virtual World Heritage Lab (VWHL) had the honor of hosting Chancellor Michael McRobbie, whose visionary leadership played a pivotal role in its inception and growth. The visit marked a significant milestone as the lab commemorated a decade of pioneering efforts in digital preservation and the development of virtual heritage.
The VWHL started in 2013 when Prof. Bernard Frischer moved it from the University of Virginia to his new home at Indiana University. The purpose of Chancellor McRobbie’s visit was to show him the highlights of the work done in the intervening years. The lab's early development was closely linked to McRobbie's term as University President, during which time he championed the establishment of the lab and the appointment of Dr. Bernard Frischer, a distinguished authority in the field, to lead its efforts.
The lab’s two Co-directors, Dr. Bernard Frischer and Dr. Gabriele Guidi, showcased the remarkable accomplishments of the lab over the past decade. Perhaps the prime example is the successful completion of the IU-Uffizi Project, which was initiated in 2016 and concluded in 2020. Its goal was to digitize important works of ancient sculpture in the Uffizi’s collections and make the resulting 3D models and related metadata freely available both on the lab’s website (www.digitalsculpture.org/florence) and on that of the Uffizi Gallery itself. Also worthy of mention is the lab’s Metamuseum Project started in 2022 in partnership with the National Archaeological Museum of Naples. Not to be forgotten is the VWHL’s professional journal, Studies in Digital Heritage (www.studiesdh.org), an Open Access journal that since its founding in 2016 has published over 150 peer-reviewed articles, making them available at no charge to the authors or to the readers. The quality of the journal is reflected in the fact that it is listed in important citation indices such as Scopus.
The VWHL is not resting on its laurels; in fact, it has initiated new projects that promise to further advance the field of digital heritage preservation.
The future of digital heritage preservation lies in the hands of the next generation through its Ph.D. program within the Luddy School’s Department of Informatics. Three doctoral students – Kacie Alaga, Zackary Hegarty, and Michael Saari – showcased their research during the presentation. Some examples of their work included: experimenting with innovative photogrammetry techniques in the collections of the National Archaeological Museum of Naples, creating new digital reconstructions, using 3D models as platforms for a new kind of condition report (the case study involves the famous Laocoon statue group in the Vatican Museums), and the integration of 3D scanning and Virtual Reality presentation techniques. This is indicative of the lab's commitment to nurturing emerging talent and fostering a collaborative environment.
Chancellor McRobbie expressed his pride in the lab's accomplishments. He commended the VWHL for its unwavering commitment to preserving cultural heritage through innovative means and its potential to shape the future of heritage studies. The lab's dedication to technological innovation, its efforts to preserve and freely disseminate cultural treasures, its impressive international relationships, and its commitment to advanced graduate training have given it a well-deserved reputation for being at the forefront of digital heritage research and education in this country.