The Arcade: A school trip with a difference!

How do you go on a school trip when you can't go to school?

National Historic Ships UK is one of the heritage organisations to take advantage of a recent offer we made to fellow Heritage Alliance members of creating a free virtual gallery, part of our efforts to support the sector during lockdown. They are based at the Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London, so it was fitting that we approached the school physically closest to them, Meridian Primary School, to offer their pupils the opportunity to go on a school trip with a difference.

Following close liaison and planning with the Year 4 teacher, Jeff Mason, a detailed note was circulated explaining how the kids could access the National Historic Ships exhibition in our gallery space, The Arcade. It is built on Mozilla Hubs, which we chose because unlike most VR platforms it is available to anyone with a web browser, a critical consideration for any virtual experience designed for mass audiences, as The Arcade very much is.

Then it was time to open the doors and welcome the kids in! Pandas, foxes, robots and all sorts of other characters popped up as they chose their avatars and came into the gallery. This was the first time many of them had been in direct contact with each other for many months, since lockdown began, and they quickly delighted in moving around the gallery and chatting away to each other. We left them to discover the chat functionality, and then how to bring 3D emojis into the space, which they did within moments.

Jeff himself was highly visible as a bright yellow floating robot, and after giving them time to enjoy themselves exploring the gallery together, asked his pupils to engage with the National Historic Ships photography exhibition itself. They looked at the photographs and chose their favourites, took a few minutes to sketch them and imagined what it might be like to sail on them.

But mostly they just had fun! They hadn’t been able to see each other for months, and through the magic of this virtual experience they were brought back together again. Since the Year 4 trip, the other classes at Meridian that have not been able to return to school have also visited the gallery. Years 2, 3 and 5 all enjoyed their own trips, and came together in The Arcade. This was immersive technology for real purpose, and it was such a pleasure to be a part of it.

Learn more about The Arcade and other virtual experiences

Welcome to The Arcade! Virtual gallery launches on Google and Mozilla

THE ARCADE IS OPEN

After several years working with some of the UK and Europe’s best culture and heritage organisations, we thought it was about time we became one ourselves! We are incredibly proud to open the doors to The Arcade, our very own gallery.

The Arcade is a three-dimensional space where visitors can explore arts, culture and heritage exhibitions from anywhere in the world. Created in response to the Coronavirus lockdown but with an important role still to play once we are in a post-Covid world, The Arcade is open to all; whether you’re using a computer, mobile, tablet or even VR headset, you can step inside and enjoy the view.

A SHARED EXPERIENCE

As well as being universally accessible, The Arcade also exists across a variety of platforms. Google Poly offers a series of 360° views of the gallery space, with the ability to enlarge and learn more about the artworks around you. Poly is also linked to the Google Expeditions app, designed to bring it into the classroom and make it viewable in VR.

Google Poly: 360° Views

But perhaps the platform in which The Arcade most comes to life is Mozilla Hubs, a web-based social environment that allows visitors to enter the space together, move around it just like you would in a physical gallery and chat with each other as you go. This kind of shared experience is at the heart of so many visits to culture and heritage spaces, and it can be meaningfully replicated in The Arcade. We believe that although this is especially timely as lockdown conditions endure, the benefits of these social cultural environments will last far longer than Covid-19.

Mozilla Hubs: Free roam in a shared social space

NOW SHOWING @ THE ARCADE

The first three exhibitions in The Arcade, presented in association with The Heritage Alliance, are Landmark Trust’s Coastal Landmarks, National Historic Ships photography competition highlights from the past ten years, and the ‘reawakening’ of Alexandra Palace’s stunning theatre. The National Historic Ships exhibition is also accessible via Mozilla Hubs here – share the link with a friend and take a wander around together!

Alexandra Palace - Google Poly
National Historic Ships - Mozilla Hubs
The Landmark Trust - Google Poly

The Arcade is open and everyone is welcome.

To learn more, talk to us about putting on your virtual exhibition, or see what virtual galleries could do for you, please get in touch.

To learn more, please get in touch