Sam Melser

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I am an artist and cultural heritage curator working with Virtual Reality.

I design purpose built interactive installations for museums and other cultural centres in VR. 

My aim is to provide museums with a new window through which to look at art and cultural heritage. It is to make curating and engaging with art fun, interactive and possible for everyone. Furthermore, it is to provide an accessible critical and socially responsible lens on art and curating cultural heritage.

Highlights from the Collection in Virtual Reality is a service that I offer in collaboration with the University of Konstanz, Baden Wuttenburg, Germany. It is designed for Museums, Private Collections and Cultural Centres with collections of art and artefacts who want to present their works in new and innovative ways. These collections might include prehistoric archaeological material, indigenous art or contemporary art, for example. The idea is to get the public to interact, in VR, with key works from the collection and to provide a new, very intimate relation to the art and cultural heritage objects, in a very special space.  

The museum provides us with digital reproductions of the works (either as video files, 2D files or 3D files) and we do the rest! Once we have the content, we get to work curating it in a new, playful and engaging way in the form of a VR installation. We use the program “OpenBrush” and with a series of graphic tools, connect all the works into a curated ensemble that can also be modified by the public.

The installation can be more or less didactic or more or less formalist. This will depend on the type of conversation you wish to elicit with your public. Our approach is to say that when in VR, our senses are especially alert and that we are in a very receptive state conducive to experiencing art and culture – unlike in the real world that is full of distractions of every kind. Virtual Reality can become a powerful educational tool.     

However, in addition to being educational, our service is also a great deal of fun. The program we use, OpenBrush is like a painter’s palette so the public can play until their hearts content whilst at the same time interact with highlights from your collections.

Virtual Reality will never replace the analogue experience of physically being in the presence of an artwork or object of cultural and historical significance. However, it can complement it and provide new ways of engaging with art and culture.

The below images were created in collaboration with the University of Konstanz in 2022.  

VR installation with permission from the Ulm museum, Germany

VR installation with permission from the Ulm Museum, Germany, in collaboration with the University of Konstanz and sponsored by BBK, Neustart Kultur

Friend experimenting with my VR installation at the University of Konstanz, 2022.

VR installation, Uni of Konstanz, 2022.

VR installation still, 2022.

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