Next Project – Interactive Exhibit Design

This semester I am taking a Interactive Exhibit Design course in which each student designs and creates an interactive exhibit of any shape or form. At the moment, I have two ideas for my project and I’m going to share my first (more on the second later).

I am always looking at new ways of presenting the history of PoWs in Riding Mountain National Park. While there has been increased attention regarding the labour project’s history, there remains no display in the Wasagaming townsite. This, I hope, will change sometime in the near future. As I began building a 3D model for my Digital History assignment last semester, I began thinking of ways that would allow me to incorporate the model into some type of interactive display. Rather than just stick with the traditional physical model/diorama, this course presents an excellent opportunity to turn a traditional display into something a little more exciting.

The next question is which direction I want to take it. As space (and resources) are limited, one option is to have an entirely computer-based exhibit. In this case, the project would take the form of a simple program for a SMART Board or traditional computer station. I’m thinking the screen would display a bird’s-eye view of the camp layout as it appeared in 1944. By clicking one of the buildings, a video of the 3D model and historic photographs would then provide a virtual tour of that specific building, indicating its purpose and history. I would also try to work in other non-building related elements, like PoW stories, dugout canoes, and camp pets, into the exhibit as well to provide a sense of what life was like for PoWs at Riding Mountain.

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Another option would be to create a physical reconstruction of the camp as well. Looking at my experience with the demographics interested in the camp’s history, most aren’t tech savvy. By creating a scale model of the site, hopefully I can bridge the gap a bit. Still have to work out the details on how I want to build it.

But wait – why stop there? Why not both?! If I’m feeling really ambitious, I’m thinking of how I can combine a physical model with a digital reconstruction. One idea is to have the buildings function essentially as buttons (or sensors) that people can press (or do some wort of action), which would then trigger a virtual tour on an nearby screen. I think this physical/digital reconstruction would help bridge generation gaps and allow both the tech-savvy and the not-so-tech-savvy visitors to learn more about the history of PoWs in Riding Mountain National Park.

Any ideas, comments, or suggestions?

Published by Michael O'Hagan

Historian studying German Prisoners of War in Canada during the Second World War

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