Learning about history is no longer just about reading books, gazing at monuments, or looking at diorama figures. Thanks to virtual reality or VR technology, museum visitors can experience poignant events and see historical characters come to life. It’s as if they’ve time-traveled to decades or centuries past.
We found three museums housing VR exhibits aroud Manila so far. The newly opened Museo El Deposito, Ayala Museum and Museo ni Ramon Magsaysay all collaborated with tech firm I AM Cardboard PH to produce 10-minute vignettes from a part of history.
Here’s the lowdown on each VR exhibit:
Museo El Deposito’s the Battle of San Juan Del Monte
Hidden underneath the Pinaglabanan Memorial Shrine in San Juan City is El Deposito. In the late 1800s, El Deposito was the underground water reservoir for Manila and nearby towns. During the Japanese and American occupation, it also served as a hospital and armory. It recently opened its doors to the public as a two-storey museum.
Museo El Deposito has three galleries where you’ll see artifacts of the underground reservoir and Carriedo waterworks. Head to gallery #3, where you’ll find the VR room. I AM Cardboard PH produced a 360-degree recreation of events surrounding the Battle of San Juan Del Monte in 1896, with key figures Emilio Jacinto and Andres Bonifacio making an appearance.
Museu El Deposito is open Tuesdays to Sundays, 8am-4pm. No entrance fee; 1500 Pinaglabanan Street, Corazon de Jesus, San Juan del Monte; fb.com/museoeldeposito
Ayala Museum’s Emergence of the Filipino Nation
This was launched as a permanent part of the museum in 2017, with the story of Jose Rizal’s execution receiving the VR treatment. Renowned historian Ambeth Ocampo was onboard as the main consultant, while German filmmaker Marco Biemann shot the film in 360 degrees. The video is projected through a special VR headset, which allows viewers to move their heads around and watch the scenes from various angles.
Last year Ayala Museum added their second VR diorama, which includes Andres Bonifacio and Emilio Aguinaldo, prominent figureheads in the Philippine revolution. The four new episodes are: Cry of Pugadlawin (1896), Tejeros Convention (1897), Trial and Execution of Andres Bonifacio (1897), and Declaration of Philippine Indepenence (1898).
Ayala Museum is open Tuesdays to Sundays, 9am-6pm; Makati Avenue, Makati City. ayalamuseum.org/visit
Museo ni Ramon Magsaysay’s 360-degree Virtual Reality Experience
There are only a few history books about the life of Ramon Magsayay, the seventh and youngest elected president of the Philippines (he was 47 years old). Magsaysay’s term was cut short in 1957 because of a fatal plane crash. To revive his brief but significant legacy, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) renovated and reopened the Museo ni Ramon Magsaysay in December 2016.
In September 2018, they added the Ramon Magsaysay 360-degree Virtual Reality Experience. NHCP chose three key events in the life of Magsaysay and tasked I AM Cardboard PH to produce the VR vignettes. The first is the opening of the Malacañan Palace to the Filipino people. The second is Magsaysay introducing his land reform program, then known as the National Resettlement and Rehabilitation Administration (NARRA). The third is a heart-tugging scene with Magsaysay’s wife and first lady, Luz Banzon-Magsaysay.
Museo Ni Ramon Magsaysay is open Tuesdays to Sundays, 8am-4pm; No entrance fee; Brgy. Sta. Maria, Castillejos, Zambales. fb.com/museoniramonmagsaysay
*Photos courtesy of Ayala Museum and I AM Cardboard PH; fb.com/iamcardboardph