Henuttawy's mystery, an educational activity
Let's go back in October 2018, when I was studying Cultural Management at Ca'Foscari University in Venice, we had to imagine an educational activity for the module Cultural Policy. I loved the idea! At that time, I was so obsessed with The Louvre Abu Dhabi and Princess Henuttawy's sarcophagi (and BTW I still am).
I would like to share this project with you. What would you change and do you have other ideas?
"The more you know of your history, the more liberated you are" Maya Angelou
We know stories from ancient Egypt; we’ve seen movies and animations before such as the epic Cleopatra or Princess of the sun. We’ve seen some ancient Egyptian artifacts or mummies at the museum, at the Louvre in Paris for example. But have we considered all the great stories of this era? In 2014, the museum Louvre Abu Dhabi acquired to its collection of Egyptian art a masterpiece: a funerary set of Princess Henuttawy. Who is Princess Henuttawy? Called the “Venerated housemistress on her mummy case and sarcophagi”, all that we know is that she was the daughter of King Sheshonk, a pharaoh from the 22nd dynasty, the Lord of the Two lands. What is the mystery behind Henuttawy’s story? How did she die?
Imagine a game where you could travel back in time, meet with the Princess and help her retrace a part of her story. Not only games are fun, interactive, and social but also they’re great tools for learning, and it helps museums reach new audiences.
Credit: Jessica Soueidi
"Louvre Abu Dhabi, the museum of then, now and the future"
The Louvre Abu Dhabi was designed by French architect, Jean Nouvel and opened its doors in November 2017. It's a “universal” museum that tells the story of global civilization. It focuses on universal human values and represents the multicultural heritage of the Arab world. The goal of the museum is to tell the story of humanity by showing works that range from the ancient to the modern.
Moreover, educating visitors has a central part in the mission of the Louvre Abu Dhabi. Not only the museum offers a wide range of educational activities on site and online but there is also a children’s museum.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi
Credit: Jessica Soueidi
We live in a new era where some major trends are affecting the cultural institutions. First, the digital technologies open up new possibilities for arts and cultural institutions. Smart devices, augmented reality and virtual reality are offering new possibilities for cultural institutions to exploit their cultural assets and create more value in order to reach a new audience. Young people spend more time online and aren’t always willing to go to the museum. There is a change in demand that is driven by technology. The consumers have more choices and require more interactivity than ever before. They are willing to become users. In fact, museums around the world are trying to maintain and increase their number of visitors. Some solutions such as using new technologies have already been implemented. Augmented reality and virtual reality have started revolutionizing the way museums engage, inform and educate their audiences. By proposing the following educational activity, I would like to leverage the power of augmented reality and virtual reality by providing the museum with new ways of engaging its visitors and building visitor’s experiences that are both educational and fun to use. On the one hand, virtual reality provides immersive experiences, and enhances the visitor’s understanding of the historic collection of the artifacts. On the other hand, augmented reality is the integration of digital information with the user's environment in real time.
The aim of this project is to combine virtual reality and augmented reality applications to provide an unexpected immersive experience to a public that ranges from teenagers to adults. The idea is not just to let the visitor become a user but it will give him/her the opportunity to interact with others, to discover, find solutions and travel thousands of years back in time. School groups, groups of friends or families (with kids over 12 years old) can play together to find elements from the mysterious story of Henuttawy. With this activity the visitors will get personally, mentally and emotionally engaged, promoting an interactive learning.
How to use it
The virtual reality multiplayer game takes place in an immersive digital world where users need to collaborate with each other in order to solve a mystery. There will be 3 rooms that can each host up to 8 people and it takes about 20 min to find all the elements to rebuild her story: each room is 30 square meter wide, and participants need to step on the Kat VR mini1 and wear an Oculus Rift type of headset (like in the movie Ready Player from Steven Spielberg). 3 staff members will be there to help people put on all the devices.
At the beginning of the game, the Princess asks them to follow her. The entire group needs to step on a “flying carpet”, following the Princess to the mysterious ancient Egypt. The participants are taken in 10 different monuments and places of ancient Egypt (Pyramid, Temple, desert, etc.). She instructs users to find 20 objects and answer to 10 questions in their journey. Each one is related to Henuttawy’s history. The right objects and answers lead them to discover the hidden mystery. Users need to interact with each other in the game in order to solve it. They can see each others avatar in the game and are able to talk like if they were playing this game in the real world.
At the end, every participants have a good appreciation and learning about the monuments and the Princess’s history. Each one of them receives an email with a picture of their avatar in the digital world and the information that they discorvered, which they can share on social media (Facebook, Instagram etc.)
Developing Henuttawy’s mystery as an educational activity could give the visitor the opportunity to feel more interaction instead of just seeing the sarcophagi. In our new era, the one of new technologies, young people can feel easely bored in front of artworks or historical artifacts. They are born in a society where technology is everywhere and they need more interactivity. This virtual and augmented reality experience will give a reason for a new audience (one that is not willing to go to the museum just to look at the art) to visit the museum. and benefit from the culture.
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