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POHJOINEN VALO MUSEO: Visualizing Light in the Virtual Museum Environment (2002)

Directed by Tina Sarawgi.


This thesis describes a design project that investigates the Pohjoinen Valo Museo (translated from Finnish as the Museum of Nordic Light). The Pohjoinen Valo Museo Project is a virtual museum environment, constructed with pixels and polygons, and accessible from any computer location in the world. The museum offers virtual exhibitions as a visualization medium for lighting phenomena significant to the Nordic region. Physical and virtual museum environments utilize similar key issues when designing exhibitions. Regardless of venue, the purpose of a successful exhibition design is to evoke a reaction in the viewer; thus facilitating a change in interest and motivation as well as increased knowledge in the display subject (Ellis, 1993).

The objective of undertaking research into exhibition design for the implementation of a virtual museum project is to illustrate the similarities between designing exhibitions for physical and virtual environments. Each involve the consideration of similar key design issues and characteristics.

Using physical museum exhibition design as precedent for the design of virtual space requires investigation of the criteria for success and evaluation of exhibit design characteristics. Research into physical museum environments shows interactive components, multi-sensory stimulation and dynamic displays contribute greatly to a visitor's sense of immersion within a museum display (Harvey, Loomis, Bell and Marino, 1998; Bitgood, 1990). Additionally, Campbell (1996) proposes "the design of virtual spaces is an architectural exploration"; one that is facilitated by architectural metaphor within the virtual museum environment. These findings applied to the creation of virtual museum environments may assist in providing a meaningful experience for the virtual visitor.

The virtual museum environment is the product of an architectonic formula; one that combines metaphors of physical space and enclosure with principles of contemporary exhibition design. Technology applied to the creation of museum environments presents new avenues for connectivity and dissolves the confines of location and physicality. This connection may simplify our interface with a global community of culture and opportunity.

The virtual museum environment explored within the Pohjoinen Valo Museo Project seeks to expand the scope of exhibition design and redefine our perception of the museum experience


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