Project Description

VAR Lab is thrilled to announce the launch of its latest immersive exhibit, “The Perry Telescope: A Virtual Perspective,” at the Hagen History Center in Erie, PA. This digital companion to a display case located alongside an interactive screen features Commodore Oliver “Hazard” Perry’s telescope from the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812, which was eventually gifted to President William Henry Harrison. Today, it is carefully preserved in the History Center behind a glass case filled with other relevant artifacts.

To offer visitors an up-close view of this magnificent historical piece, the VAR Lab from Penn State Behrend was tasked with 3D scanning the telescope and creating an interactive exhibit to bring the artifact to life. The exhibit includes a precise, high-fidelity 3D model of the telescope built using structured light scanning, along with a range of virtual materials such as historical documents, artistic depictions of the battle, and portraits of Oliver Perry himself, all of which combine to provide an immersive digital learning experience for a wide audience.

In addition to these historical materials, the exhibit features a “Ship Spotting” function that allows users to simulate the use of a telescope to spot warships on Lake Erie. Users can pan left or right by touching/clicking and dragging to bring their field of vision to rest upon the several ships present on the horizon. Once a ship has been brought into view, users can view a brief description of that ship, including its condition before the Battle of Lake Erie.

This exhibit is a prime example of the collaborative projects that VAR Lab seeks to foster, demonstrating the range of possibilities that arise through the integration of technology and education.