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Master Digital Design students present first LGBTQI+ museum in virtual reality

Reliable and positive information about LGBTQI+ culture is hard to find online. That’s why students from the Master Digital Design (Hogeschool van Amsterdam/AUAS) created a LGBTQI+ museum in virtual reality.

This summer, festival Queer Currents has the scoop and will display the museum at several locations before and during Amsterdam Pride. The VR museum includes personal stories, a virtual Amsterdam Pride and an exhibition of Pride Photo 2022. ‘We want everyone to have a moment where they say: “Wow, I didn’t know that.”’

Students Casper Sterrenburg, Anastasia Maimescu, Damir Ćatibović and Olico Matsjitadze from the Master Digital Design created a digital museum showcasing LHBTQI+ culture, on the instruction of Mirjam Vosmeer, researcher VR for Diversity. The students spoke to members of Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences’ LGBTQI+ community (HvA Pride) beforehand to hear about their biggest frustrations. The main point that came forward: for people who want to learn more about LGBTQI+ culture, it’s hard to find reliable and interesting information online. The students therefore designed a virtual museum to provide a space where people can learn more about LGBTQI+ culture through a unique combination of personal stories, media and art.

Travelling museum

Queer Currents organizer Gijs Stork was enthusiastic about the students' VR museum and decided to show it during the festival. “I find this initiative important. A queer museum like this was missing up till now, but we do need a place like this. The VR museum conveys the diversity of the queer community very well, and therefore we’re glad to show it at Queer Currents.”

In the museum, visitors use a VR headset to explore rooms with various exhibits. The entrance features a wall with flags from the different LGBTQI+ communities, and further on is a place where visitors can watch and listen to personal stories. Visitors also learn about gay rights worldwide, for example, and about gender through a virtual ‘genderbread person’.

The museum also features an exhibition with selected work of the Pride Photo 2022. There is also a ‘Pride Experience Room’. In this virtual replica of the Pride celebration in Amsterdam, visitors get a 360-degree view of canalside houses, boats and people dancing on the quays.

Eureka moment

'The intention isn’t to force people to learn something,’ Casper says. ‘Above all, we wanted to make this a surprising and interactive experience about LGBTQI+ culture, in which visitors might also learn something new. Our goal is for everyone to eventually have that eureka moment in the museum. This happened during the user tests, too: we often heard, “Oh, I didn’t know that.”’

The students from the Master’s programme in Digital Design developed this museum based on an assignment from AUAS researcher Mirjam Vosmeer for her VR for Diversity project and were coached by researcher Sky Leslie.

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