Broward County Library, Fla.
Virtual AARLCC is a virtual exhibit of 20 important acquisitions from the African American Research Library & Cultural Center. It “lives” online and features 3-D models of African masks, carvings, figurines and other unique and significant artifacts. Visitors can take an online video tour and view and virtually interact with the items.
Even before COVID-19 limited access to in-person visits to museums, galleries and libraries, Broward County Library was exploring ways to provide museum-quality virtual visits to AARLCC’s Special Collections which contain over 1 million items, including rare books, artwork, manuscripts, reference materials and artifacts. The challenge was to leverage existing library assets for cultural engagement and create an online virtual experience that wasn’t just as good as being there — it was better.
In May 2020, Broward County Library launched Virtual AARLCC — an online gallery featuring 3-D models of 20 African artifacts. BCL is the first library in Florida to offer virtual exhibition visits via 3-D modeling and augmented reality technology. It can be viewed using virtual reality gear online or via Sketchfab.com/AARLCC, where visitors can download the 3-D images. By bringing the AARLCC gallery experience to life via virtual reality, Virtual AARLCC provides a seamless transition from in-person programming to virtual.
Since opening in May 2020, library staff conducted two live, curated tours of Virtual AARLCC with a total of 161 attendees. There have been approximately 2,300 total views of Sketchfab.com/AARLCC which is linked to the Virtual AARLCC website. Virtual AARLCC will grow as the library staff continues to 3-D scan the hundreds of artifacts in AARLCC's Special Collections and additional online programming centered around Virtual AARLCC is in the works.