Hermitage 360º. Immersion in History

Hermitage 360º. An immersion in history – is the first historical film, presented by a fictitious character, recorded in a 360º 3D video format. For 18 minutes, it runs through 250 years of history of one of the world’s largest museum.

The famous Russian theatre and film actor Konstantin Khabensky plays the role of a virtual guide. He accompanies spectators during the exciting journey and shows them the most landmark events of the Hermitage museum history: Catherine the Great’s first art collections, the first art gallery foundation, the 1837 great fire and the museum’s first opening to the public. The tour also includes a visit to the museum storage, usually closed to visitors, whose history is told by the museum director Mikhail Piotrovsky. The visit finishes in the museum’s roof with the panoramic view over Palace Square and the skyline of Saint Petersburg.

The multimedia content can be visualized by Samsung Gear VR glasses. The location of the mobile device inside of the glasses without the use of cables and the 360º rotation on the swivel chairs allows viewers to fully enjoy an immersive experience. The unusual participation of the virtual guide along the tour makes the experience more comfortable and involves visitors more deeply in historic scenarios.

According to Darya Hookk, the principal investigator of the Department of Archaeology in the Hermitage museum, the success of this project lies in the use of potential of new technologies that can transform abstract historical knowledge into visual images, and make dreams, like walking on the roof of the Winter Palace or looking at the Palace Square from a bird’s-eye view, come true during the virtual visit.

The Designers of the Videofabrika project want to export this experience outside of the museum walls and design itinerant and accessible virtual visits for festivals and cultural events in other regions of Russia.

Finally, it is worth emphasizing that it is not the first time that the Hermitage museum has gained prominence in the cinema. The most famous example is the film “Russian Ark” by Alexander Sokurov that was filmed entirely in the Winter palace using a single sequence shot lasting 1 hour, 27 minutes and 12 seconds long, in December 2001.

Note: Although the project is titled Hermitage. VR, in actuality, it is a film based on real images, recorded in 360º and in 3D, without using virtual environments. Therefore, the use of the term virtual reality is erroneous.