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Thursday, June 8 • 4:10pm - 4:30pm
Accessible Augmented Reality and 3D Printed Objects at Villa La Pietra in Florence, Italy

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Museums have long been under-resourced and underfunded, especially in the areas of digital innovation and accessibility practices. A fear of "getting it wrong" is also an immobilizing force that prevents innovation. This paper explores the design and implementation of three student-led and student-created digital modules for visitors with diverse motor, cognitive, sensory, and behavior-emotional disabilities for a historic house museum located in Florence, Italy. The prototypes utilize aspects of open-source software, and low-cost, sustainable solutions. In this paper, existing technology-based accessible initiatives employed in NYC-based historic houses provide the basis for effective practices. By outlining and describing three student-built working prototypes developed for a small historic house museum called Villa La Pietra located on NYU's campus in Florence, Italy, the author aims to illustrate new ways that cultural workers in small historic houses can build ground-breaking accessible technology projects themselves.

The student-built prototypes include the design and development of an augmented reality platform to digitally integrate historical and archival photography of Villa La Pietra using image descriptions, a relational database of the Acton guestbook with digitized signatures that trace the connected histories of visitors to the Villa over the last century, and the design and implementation of a 3D printed object from Villa La Pietra's collection so that it becomes accessible beyond the bounded regions of a visual field for visitors that are blind or have low vision. This paper explores some of the creative, educational, and social implications of emerging technologies for small historic house museums, including extended reality (augmented reality, virtual reality, and mixed reality) and 3D printing. The research and pedagogy outlined in this paper are designed to build a greater understanding of digitally-based accessibility practices in historic houses and inspire future generations of technologists, students, and cultural workers, enabling them to lead the future of museum access.


Rosanna Flouty

Director | Clinical Associate Professor, Museum Studies, New York University

Craig Kapp

Clinical Professor, Computer Science, New York University, United States of America

Thursday June 8, 2023 4:10pm - 4:30pm EDT
ARC E-13