The University of Arizona’s Center for Digital Humanities, in partnership with The Colored Girls Museum in Philadelphia, is being awarded a $175,000 grant to create high-resolution, three-dimensional scans of art and cultural artifacts created by members of the community.
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation grant is part of a program to support immersive technology and the arts, including the use of virtual and augmented reality to strengthen audience engagement. The project was one of five that were selected through an open call for ideas launched earlier this year that received more than 500 submissions.
Bryan Carter, director of the Center for Digital Humanities and associate professor of Africana Studies, says the project will produce a series of real and virtual exhibits available to people around the world, leveraging the power of immersive, interactive experiences to engage visitors with the life experiences of women and girls of the African diaspora.
The project has grown out of a proposal funded by a Faculty Seed Grant from the university’s Office for Research, Discovery & Innovation. With the initial support, the Center for Digital Humanities purchased a high-resolution, three-dimensional scanner to begin work with the museum.
“As a result of that RDI award, the CDH was placed in position to apply for this Knight Foundation grant to bring this project to life,” Carter says.
The Knight Foundation says the experimental projects selected will “explore new ways to engage audiences through immersive experiences. In addition to funding from Knight, the organizations will receive optional coaching from Microsoft’s mixed reality team, access to Microsoft and partner technology, and the opportunity to be featured across Microsoft marketing channels.
“Across the board, arts institutions are hungry to improve their use of technology to connect with audiences. But limited know-how and resources are inhibiting experimentation and success,” said Chris Barr, director for arts and technology at Knight Foundation. “Our hope is for these new initiatives to inspire more innovation in the field and provide models for other organizations seeking to engage people with the arts through tech.”