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The Museum of Ukrainian Museums in the metaverse

Design for Ukrainian Heritage

19 December 2023 — 2 minutes read

The Design for Ukrainian Heritage project brings together in a single digital museum the works of art of twenty Ukrainian museum institutions for the preservation of the national cultural heritage that is highly endangered due to the military conflict.

Following the principles and motivations behind the Design Against War project, which involved students and researchers from the Politecnico di Milano and the European Movement for Nonviolent Action (MEAN), Design for Ukrainian Heritage (D4UH) set out to find strategies to protect, preserve and enhance the artworks housed in Ukrainian museum institutions through the creation of a digital platform.

In collaboration with 22 Ukrainian museums, the D4UH team built the Museum of Ukrainian Museums using video, 3D models, mockups and images, to advocate for the preservation and digitization of collections, emphasizing the intricate interconnection between humanity, human senses and cultural heritage. The project bears witness to the impact that war is having on buildings and works of art and monitors the measures taken by institutions to protect and save heritage.

In July 2022, after meeting with the superintendents of the National Museum of History of Ukraine in Kiev, Anna Barbara, Associate Professor of the Department of Design and coordinator of the D4UH project, together with MEAN volunteers, launched a call for action to engage students through the Passion in Action program.

Each of the twenty-three selected students – from nine different courses of study and from thirteen different countries – was assigned a Ukrainian museum to study its history, museological features, permanent collections and most significant temporary exhibitions: an intensive data collection process focused on each museum's past, present and future.

The research team identified relevant data sources such as social media platforms, websites, and direct communications with museum directors. The collected data were thoroughly analyzed to gain insights into the current situation of museums, identify patterns and trends, and guide the design of the virtual museum.

It was thus possible to determine if, how much and when museums had been damaged, as well as the extent of damage and the condition of their permanent collections.

Interaction with museum directors also helped to define concrete actions, beginning with the demand for conservation of works in the short term and ending with the improvement of museum itineraries in the long term.

The research

Using advanced 3D modeling and rendering techniques, the Museum of Ukrainian Museums was thus born, a unique, extensive museum in the metaverse that is constantly being updated, offering visitors a detailed, immersive experience capable of restoring the feeling of being inside a physical museum.

The virtual museum experience provides an authentic and immersive sense of the cultural space, echoing the impact that the war had on Ukrainian museums and the country's history.

The Museum of Ukrainian Museums

«Design for Ukrainian Heritage is a concrete example of activism in design that allowed for the recognition of the urgency of identifying and developing strategies and perspectives on cultural heritage preservation in the context of conflict.»