Theses Master's

A New Era of Cultural Heritage Field Trips: Enhancing Historic Preservation Interpretation through Virtual Reality, with a Case Study on Low Library Rotunda

Zhang, Zihao

In the dynamic field of historic preservation, immersive technologies like Virtual Reality (VR) provide unique opportunities to enhance education and interpretation methods. This thesis explores a new VR-based platform's potential, aiming to connect cultural heritage sites with diverse audiences. This research, incorporating the views of heritage site managers and visitors, tackles significant challenges such as funding limitations and the need for more engaging interpretive tools.

Heritage site managers deal with budget restrictions and a lack of captivating methods to express their sites' cultural and historical significance. Meanwhile, VR developers face technological stagnation due to a shortage of high-quality content. Audiences, especially from the education and tourism sectors, deal with accessibility issues and a shortage of immersive learning tools capable of effectively conveying complex historical narratives.

This thesis suggests that combining VR technology with digital twin models can revolutionize how cultural heritage is experienced and understood. The proposed WanderLens platform enables an interactive, educational, and financially sustainable model by utilizing VR's technological strengths and the rich content that heritage sites offer. The dual-focused approach—considering both the providers (heritage site managers) and the users (audiences)—emphasizes the platform's capacity to enhance visitor experience and educational outreach.

Divided into five chapters, the thesis scrutinizes theoretical frameworks, performs case studies, and applies experimental methodologies using Columbia University's Low Library Rotunda as an instance. This multifaceted analysis demonstrates the platform's effectiveness in improving access, engagement, and understanding of cultural heritage, suggesting its broader applicability and scalability potential. The findings contribute to academic knowledge and have practical implications for cultural heritage preservation, audience engagement, and the integration of advanced technology in educational tourism.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Historic Preservation
Thesis Advisors
Jauregui, Andre P.
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
May 29, 2024