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Brown U Computer Science Undergrads Create Digital Museum Exhibits

Undergraduate computer science students at Brown University have created two interactive digital museum experiences for a traveling exhibition, The Nobel Prize — Ideas Changing the World, about the history of the Nobel Prize.

The students developed the interactive digital experiences under the direction of Andy van Dam, a professor of technology and education at Brown. Last summer, the Nobel Foundation asked Microsoft to provide a new software platform for the foundation's digital exhibits. Microsoft in turn selected Brown University's Touch Art Gallery (TAG) group, led by van Dam, to develop the exhibits using its TAG software, which runs on Windows and the Web and "is designed to enable museums and educators to digitize and contextualize artwork and manuscripts, especially those too large or fragile to be viewed in person," according to a news release from Brown. The completed exhibits run on two panoramic 82-inch Microsoft touch screen displays, as well as on a separate 55-inch display and several Microsoft Surface tablets.

One of the exhibits developed by van Dam's undergraduate students focuses on the life of Alfred Nobel, who established the Nobel Prize as part of his last will and testament. The exhibit centers around the document, and key words and phrases link to interactive photo collections that tell the story of his life. It also includes six virtual tours with audio narration and images that pan and zoom. Visitors can start and stop the virtual tours on-demand and navigate through photos and other linked material.

The second exhibit developed by the students provides information about all 900 Nobel laureates, and visitors can look them up by prize category, year, country of origin, gender and other attributes. The exhibit includes a photo, brief biography and information about the Nobel prize-winning work of each laureate.

The Nobel Prize — Ideas Changing the World is currently on display at the ArtScience Museum in Singapore and will run there for the next three months. Future venues around the world will be announced in the coming months.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at [email protected].

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