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The Digital Heritage Lab

In the realm of heritage preservation, digital innovation has become an indispensable tool, ushering museums into an era of accessibility and engagement like never before.

At the forefront of this digital transformation, our dedicated team of experts is spearheading a series of initiatives to digitize artefacts and bring West African heritage into the digital age and developing MOWAA’s Virtual Collection. From digitally documenting artefacts to creating online narratives for enhanced research and engagement, their work extends to geographic and spatial analytics, virtual tours, to training and exchange programs for other museums and institutions.

Key Initiatives

Digital Preservation & Virtual Collections

Two of the flagship projects for MOWAA’s digital team, the Plaques Digitization Project and the Ogiamien House Preservation Initiative, focus on the digital archiving of Nigerian artworks and monuments. With the aid of camera-wielding drones and spatially-aware software, our team worked with the German Archaeological Institute to create an accurate model, used to inform recent preservation efforts of Chief Ogiamien’s former mud wall palace.

Funded by the Ford Foundation and in partnership with the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM), the Plaques Digitization Project will culminate in the development of a virtual recreation of one of Benin’s most iconic and historic buildings.  This multi-year project brings dispersed collections and diverse knowledge together. The nearly 140 records of artefacts generated thus far have been developed through archival and research exchanges with museums across three continents and consultations with historians and communities in Benin City.

These initiatives extend the applications of digital technologies to heritage management in Nigeria and serve as a new knowledge base for Benin’s unique pre-1700s aristocratic architecture.

Amplifying Digital Heritage with Photogrammetry

Both projects leverage photogrammetry, a cutting-edge technique for creating detailed 3D models from photographs. The benefits of photogrammetry are manifold. Not only does it allow for rapid and accurate digitization of artifacts, but it also serves as a safeguard against damage or loss. Furthermore, the digital models created can be utilized in various digital environments, including virtual reality (VR) platforms, and accessed through web-based platforms for study and engagement.

MOWAA’s Digital Heritage Lab aims to build a strong digital foundation in Nigeria, prioritizing open-source and user-friendly features to effectively incorporate various digital heritage assets. To do this, we are developing practical guides, promoting responsible open access practices, and training cultural practitioners from Nigeria’s national and independent museums on digital preservation techniques.

Enhancing of local skills to create, manage, and interact with digital records of Africa’s heritage is critical. These endeavours–ultimately expand public knowledge about cultural artefacts and foster dynamic connections our historical roots.

 

 

Partners and Collaborations

The Digital Heritage Team relies on collaborations with other museums, regulators, experts, families and other custodians of culture to execute its initiatives. These connections help equip our teams with relevant skills, secure access to collections and monuments, and imbue digital recreations with local knowledge. Over the past two years, MOWAA has worked with several institutions including Nigeria’s National Museums (Lagos and Benin), Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (Cambridge), Pitts River Museum (Oxford), Council Museum (Ipswich), Horniman Museum (London), Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum (Cologne), Ethnologische Museum (Berlin), Rietberg Museum (Zurich), Museum der Kulturen (Basel), Neuchatel Ethnology Museum (Basel), and Musée d’Ethnographie (Zurich).

Together, these collaborations underscore our collective dedication to leveraging technology for the preservation and accessibility of cultural heritage.  Revolutionizing how we interact with and learn from our cultural heritage and promising to make artifacts more accessible to people worldwide, the advancement in digital heritage preservation is incredibly exciting.

As MOWAA continues to delve into digital heritage preservation, we’re excited about what lies ahead. From ongoing digitization projects to capacity-building initiatives, the museum aims to become a significant player in digital heritage management in West Africa and beyond.