Immersive History
Immersive History project logo

Cultural industries, culture and heritage

The collaborative music-making technologies that the Immersive History project aims to develop represent an opportunity for cultural organizations to greatly expand the reach of their existing engagement work and to grow new audiences, particularly hard-to-reach audiences.

By building anonymous user analytics directly into the software, we will have a means of capturing and visualizing the impact of these collaborative music-making technologies.

For heritage agencies, such as Historic Environment Scotland, the technology represents an opportunity to explore, non-invasively, the architectural acoustics of their historic sites, and to situate experiential visitor attractions on site.

Engaging audiences who visit heritage sites, the technologies developed by this project have the potential to provide greater and easier public access to the outcomes of such site-specific research.

The technology also provides a means of democratizing such research, and a vehicle for communities to use the technology to explore, non-invasively, the performance characteristics of historical spaces and events that are not of national importance, but which are, nevertheless, significant to local communities.

Great potential of immersive technology for heritage sites

It is hoped that the project will lead to scalable technology giving the opportunity for larger research projects.

These could focus on more ambitious immersive restoration projects with groups such as the National Trust (who have expressed an interest in future collaboration) and English Heritage to develop immersive reconstructions of more challenging locations such as the no-longer-standing Old Sarum cathedral. The technology could also be put to use for larger ensembles, such as the Royal National Scottish Orchestra.

This research has the potential to expand to other academic disciplines, for instance providing models for the reconstruction of Medieval theatre.

Our heritage partner: St Cecilia’s Hall

St Cecilia's Hall is the oldest purpose-built concert hall in Scotland.

Following from their recent redevelopment, they are seeking to develop new audiences for their musical instrument museum and the concert hall.

The hall would benefit from online resources (which could serve both as advert for the physical space and as a resource for harder-to-reach audiences or those with issues of access due to disability), and for on-site interactive installations which help to explore new ways of curating physical space.

Our heritage partner: Linlithgow Palace

Linlithgow Palace is the ancient seat of the Kings and Queens of Scotland. Birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots and James the VI of Scotland/I of England, it is now a ruin.

The project is particularly interested in the chapel. Once home to performances by the Chapel Royal in front of James IV it now lacks a roof and is no longer a viable performance space. Using immersive technology, we hope to return it to its former glory.

Impact activities

Find out how the project encourages active engagement with partners from the national technology sector in the three disciplines of

  • Early Music,
  • sonic interaction design,
  • and physical, virtual reality (VR), and augmented reality (AR) computing.

Research context

Similar priorities face museums, galleries, and heritage sites which have to cope with funding pressures from government and the challenge of growing and sustaining public audiences.

The NMC Horizon Report: 2015 Museum Edition has identified

  • ‘Bring Your Own Device’,
  • digital games,
  • and gamification

as central to many museum’s strategies to remain competitive in the market.

Yet there has been little investigation of how these might be aligned with core education and outreach strategies or, indeed, how these might be optimised for maximum effect.

We intend to produce a space in which developers and the cultural sector can explore these issues.

As well as exploring the potential for Virtual Reality to aid our understanding of Early Music performance,

The proposed project seeks to further our understanding of immersion leading to potential commercial outcomes as well as to the opportunity to use this new understanding of immersion to produce outputs which can grow the public audience for Early Music and for heritage spaces.