News / Alum wins NEH grant for virtual heritage project


Jeffrey Jacobson, who was awarded his PhD in Information Science and Technology in 2008, has been awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities’ (NEH) Office of Digital Humanities in support of “Egyptian Ceremony in the Virtual Temple -- Avatars for Virtual Heritage” Announced on July 1, the NEH grant will fund the development of new virtual reality technology for an exhibition on ancient Egypt at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh.  At the museum, the Earth Theater presents a regular program, “The Virtual Egyptian Temple,” a three-dimensional, computer-graphic simulation of a Ptolemaic Era temple which was also designed by Dr. Jacobson.  With the NEH grant, this exhibit will be expanded to incorporate “The Egyptian Oracle,” an important religious event of that period.  The recreated ceremony will involve the Earth Theater and two other large-screen theaters in the museum. An expert puppeteer will create the virtual High Priest and several other participants, while the audience will play the role of the Egyptian public. The expanded Virtual Reality capabilities will permit audiences to directly interact with -- and participate in the ceremony – to enable greater understanding and empathy for other cultures.