CHAR: An Online Collection and Database of Augmented Reality apps in Museums and Cultural Heritage Sites


Friday, April 16, 2021: 2:00pm - 3:30pm - - Paper Session

Liron Efrat, University of Toronto, Canada

Published paper: CHAR: An Online Collection and Database of Augmented Reality Apps in Museums and Cultural Heritage Sites

This paper presents the CHAR collection which groups over 100 cultural heritage AR apps and related materials, including apps for museums, art projects, activism, and AR apps for archeological and heritage sites. In this collection, I identify twelve categories of AR application in cultural heritage settings and I use them to classify the projects. In CHAR, entries documenting AR projects can be browsed individually and in groups based on their AR category. These AR categories are indicative of twelve different ways to (re)construct the user experience of cultural heritage content and sites, and they contribute to the field by providing an overarching, medium-specific framework for both the analysis and production of AR apps in cultural settings.

After presenting the database and its main functions, this paper will outline two sets of six AR categories and will present key examples from CHAR. The first set includes projects that use AR to expand visitors’ interpretation of heritage or museum sites as geographical or architectural locations, and the second set includes projects that use AR to animate and diversify the interpretations of history and heritage. While most researchers have considered AR as a spatial technology, the categories in CHAR demonstrate that AR is both a spatial and a temporal medium. This observation illustrates additional aspects of the perceptual paradigm promoted by cultural heritage AR and, more specifically, it shows how cultural heritage AR can (1) reject the perception of time as a linear chronology, and (2) decentralize the production and interpretations of history and heritage. Accordingly, CHAR becomes a research tool that emphasizes the added value of using AR in the context of cultural heritage. This tool aims to assist scholars, museum professionals, educators, and AR designers and practitioners in the process of analyzing apps and developing new and impactful projects.

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