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18th century, meet 21st century

Shaker history comes alive through virtual reality project in Watervliet

Virtual Watervliet has several options for tours, including a 3D tour with Google Earth, a 2D map tour and a site layout, all with clickable images that describe infrastructure and even people that once lived there. Each tour has its own features and elements to further depict the Shaker site.

Virtual Watervliet has several options for tours, including a 3D tour with Google Earth, a 2D map tour and a site layout, all with clickable images that describe infrastructure and even people that once lived there. Each tour has its own features and elements to further depict the Shaker site. Submitted photo

— “One thing is when you’re home and at the desktop, but another thing is if you go to the site itself, you have the mobile website companion, augmented channel. We wanted to explore that. It’s such a rich history,” said Iara Beduschi Kozan, executive director and co-founder of Virtual Grounds.

Since its official launch, the website has won two awards. The National Council on Public History gave VWV an Honorable Mention for Outstanding Public History Project and Museumwise, The Museum Association of New York, issued an award of merit in the category of Innovation in Interpretation. The website was also highlighted in the Google Earth blog.

The recognition has been amazing, D’Angelo said, and she hopes VWV will become a primary source for teachers when discussing Shaker history. She said school tours have dropped dramatically in the past years due to budget cuts. With VWV, D’Angelo said she hopes visitors will come at anytime and take their own self-guided tours.

“Our goal is to really make it a place that people are proud of,” she said.

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