Miriam Weberstorfer, ArchäoNOW | September 23, 2019 | 10 am

How ArchäoNOW revives Vienna’s history.

Why knowledge transfer must be thought more interactively
As a primary school child you were still really cool if you could call all dinosaurs by their names, today you are looked at quite strangely if you mention at the family dinner that you like to work with old bones. Well, what I see is the past, whether human or animal, whether building or statue – we are always surrounded by old remains, whether we like it or not. History slumbers at almost every corner and behind almost every stone.
After my studies “Quaternary Biology and Archaeology of the Palaeolithic” (Yes, this was a real study), short called “QUAP”, my head was full of fundamental knowledge of the past and creative ideas. So I set off for Vienna’s city centre. I wanted to discover what seems hidden to so many, recognize clues and discover old stories. Where did they really happen? Where are they still visible today? What do they tell us?

(© arez.pictures)

History is alive
My many years of work at an event agency and at the Natural History Museum Vienna have shown me that cultural mediation has to be interactive: Riddle hunting through old Vienna, revealing secrets, wandering on the traces of the past – that’s the kind of historical experience I didn’t find anywhere in Vienna. ArchäoNOW was born and every year thousands of people take part in our puzzle tours. Why? “Das Schönste, was wir erleben können, ist das Geheimnisvolle” (The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious), Albert Einstein once said and he is right. Going in search of clues as a team and discovering hidden things in the process is not only fun, but also really clever. This is precisely why ArchäoNOW‘s goal is to create added educational value. History is alive and you can experience it here. With all senses it is uncovered, questioned and explored. The aha effect is a constant companion during the tours and at the end a treasure chest is waiting to be opened. Better than any computer game – I think anyway.

Rätselralleys Wien ArchäoNOW (© Franco Lafur)

The perfect match
As a bioarchaeologist you are always with one foot in the past, as an entrepreneur you certainly have to look in the future. And this clearly shows a wide range of possibilities. One day, an e-mail came from a stranger. As it turned out, an augmented and virtual reality developer and at the same time architect with a common great passion: old Vienna and its secrets. It was “the perfect match” and so ArchäoNOW developed together with VARS the first Augmented Reality Tour of Vienna.

© Florian Wieser & Franco Lanfur

AR technology
ArchäoNOW uses the highest possible level of augmented reality technology and allows the participants to resurrect long lost buildings and inaccessible objects directly into their own hands. Although the Maria Magdalena Chapel burnt down on 12 September 1781, we rebuilt it virtually and placed it in its original size at its former location. Our model stands almost centimetre-precisely in its original place, while the Virgil Chapel opens below. Once see through the floor? No problem, we’ll add another one and even show you how to anthropologically examine a skull. Our participants are allowed to do this immediately – all through a virtual model, of course. In this way, originals can be experienced, but they cannot be destroyed.

Rätselralleys Wien ArchäoNOW (© Jezeli)

Have you ever imagined what time travel would feel like? However, with the new technologies at our disposal, we can get an idea of what Vienna or other places may have looked like at some point in the past. ArchäoNOW uses the augmented reality to make history more accessible to a wider audience and to inspire people for history.
Sometimes I have to think back to the moment when Franco Lanfur of VARS showed me the augmented reality model of the Maria Magdalena Chapel for the first time. As if from one moment to the next, I was once again caught up in this childlike curiosity and enthusiasm. I could hardly believe what I saw, but I was still aware that that was not all.

During the Conference on Cultural Heritage and New Technologies you have the opportunity to participate our event on 4th of November. Book your -10%-ticket for this special occasion right here.