Kouvola city museum Poikilo exhibits life in Kouvola, Finland, starting from the 17th century in its newest exhibition, Manors of Kouvola. The daily lives and the festivities at the noble manors peek through from the times passed into today.
The exhibition also features an augmented reality route. The visitors get to see a glance from the history of Kymenlaakso and its people brought into today.
The exhibition's objective is to show the Kouvola area's vivid history through more than twenty manor houses and their intriguing stories. A manor is more than its glorious facade. It is the wholeness of land, livelihood, and life stories of the people.
Augmented reality enables museums to display more content with less equipment
The manors, of course, had a variety of residents. These people now come alive as fictional characters with augmented reality in Stories from the Manor Folk -route.
In the AR route, viewable with the Arilyn app, five characters come to tell their stories from the past. "Mrs. Alm ushers the lively miss Jacobina, Tilda daydreams of potential fiancés, and Petter Lax of the linen sauna from his youth. And who could be the ghost of Anjala manor?"
The AR route got wind under its wings when the Ministry of Culture and Education of Finland granted a special fund for the museum in autumn 2020. The museum had planned to create virtual guides for the exhibition, and the fund made it possible to build them with augmented reality.
"One of the best things about AR is that it allows us to bring new content to exhibitions without changing the physical surroundings or purchasing any extra equipment. The whole project has been a lot of fun. We have enjoyed it so much, and collaborating with Arilyn is easy and pleasant," said museum educator Irja Ahtovirta and curator Hanna Kaivonurmi.
"Creating the AR route gave new experiences to not only the museum staff but the actors as well. The polished outcome is fine and dandy to watch!"
But like with every project, there have been challenges as well. Because of the pandemic, the number of visitors has been small. Also, some of the visitors are hesitant to try out the new technology. Luckily, some excited and curious people have experienced the tales from the past with the tools of the future.
Irja and Hanna believe in AR having vast possibilities in the museum world.
"Different ways of displaying content are needed. Augmented reality enables us to focus on the content itself, and not on investments of equipment."