Classics and Archaeology Virtual Museum

About the Project

Aim of the Project

The Virtual Museum Project aims at transforming teaching, research and public education in Classics and Archaeology and related areas by opening up access to the University's valuable collections of antiquities. It is a major scholarly and educational enterprise adding value to these resources through state-of-the-art learning technologies.

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What is the Virtual Museum?

The core content of the Virtual Museum was described in the original proposal (1/2/95) as:

  1. Three-dimensional images of solid objects created using Quicktime VR. Users will be able to rotate an object through 360รป and zoom in for closer inspection of detail.
  2. Still and video images of excavations and objects.
  3. Text: excavation reports, studies of the collection, notes.
  4. A fully-indexed and cross-referenced hypertext catalogue which users can search by selecting any word in the catalogue or by choosing from prepared lists of keywords.
  5. A point-and-click interface, or something similar, with 'intelligent' prompting, allowing easy navigation through the Museum and linked collections.

Successful application was made to the Arts Faculty and University Equipment funds (7 July 95), and $135,000 was allocated for a three-year project. At the time it was estimated that the Collections comprised 886 objects, with perhaps a few more not registered. Work commenced early in 1996.

The Project has not been without its difficulties. The number of objects eventually turned out to be in excess of 2400. The curator of the Classics Collection, Peter Connor, died at the end of 1996. In 1997 a member of staff was allowed to give one day per week to the Project, and in 1998 this was increased to half time, but staff changes in mid-1998 forced reduction of the Project to a salvage operation.

Captions for the images and image editing beyond a minimal stage had to be jettisoned. The revised, 12-month Project was defined in the following terms:

  1. A Web version of the Virtual Museum.
  2. 7-10,000 images at single resolution with some editing.
  3. Inventory-standard minimum catalogue entries, based on stocktake and existing records.
  4. One kiosk.

Through a combination of falling hardware costs, ingenuity and much voluntary effort, at the end of the revised Project the outcomes include:

The Project has also stimulated a number of research activities. By-products of the Project include an illustrated volume and CD-ROM on the Greek Vases, the first translation into English of the Letters of Gregory the Great (recently awarded a major ARC grant), and a catalogue of over 100 Cypriot objects.

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The Project commenced in 1996 with support from the Arts Faculty Equipment Fund for photographic materials/processing and computer equipment. The Multimedia Education Unit has made a major contribution in the form of photography and digital imaging services. Staff of the Ian Potter Museum of Art and of ArtsIT have collaborated generously throughout the project.


Project Co-ordinator:

John Burke, Senior Fellow, School of Fine Arts, Classical Studies and Archaeology.


Steering Committee:

Professor Jaynie Anderson (Chair, Head of School)

Dr G Bunnens (School, until June 1999)

Heather Gaunt (Ian Potter Museum of Art)

James Hale (ArtsIT)

Bob Ivison (Multimedia Education Unit)

Dr E Pemberton (School)

Associate Professor A Sagona (School)


Development (from 12/8/98):

Renfrew Associates


Photography and Imaging:

David Adam

Priya Cardinaletti

Sean McPhillips

Melisa Savickas.



Classics Collection

Peter Connor, Elizabeth Pemberton


Peter Connor, Chris Haymes, Ron Ridley

Cypriot Collection

Kathryn Eriksson, Antonio Sagona, Sally Salter

Greek Vases

Peter Connor, Heather Jackson

Joe Huber Collection

Claudia Sagona

Latin and Greek Manuscripts

John Martyn, John Burke

Near Eastern Collection

Guy Bunnens, Andrew Jamieson

Neil Taylor Collection

Antonia Sagona


George Gellie, Graeme Clarke

Vizard Antiquities

Alisa Bunbury

The assistance of the following people is also gratefully acknowledged:

Kate Bailey, Leah Breninger, Peter Brennan, Margaret Burke, Ric Canale, Dorothy Connor, Terri D'Argenio, Christine Elias, Basil Hennessy, Sarah Howells, Mathew Hudson, Geoff Jenkins, Alexandra Klug, Frances Lindsay, Clarissa Macdonald, Christine McIntyre, Margaret Manion, Peter McTigue, Jonathon Meurs, Bernard Muir, Roger Scott, Frank Sear, Robyn Sloggett, Maurice Smith, Catherine Smith, Graeme Smith, Anne Swann, Audrey Wain, Annette Wellkamp, Virgina Wise.
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Future development

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