The Naturalist's Workshop
The Naturalist’s Workshop is an application for the Oculus Quest standalone virtual reality headset for use by museum visitors on the floor of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences under the supervision of a volunteer attendant. Within the application, museum visitors are seated at a virtual desk. Using their hand controllers and head-mounted display, they explore drawers containing botanical specimens and tools-of-the-trade of a naturalist.
While exploring, the participant can receive new information about any specimen by dropping it into a virtual examination tray. 360-degree photography and three-dimensionally scanned specimens are used to allow user-motivated, immersive experience of botanical meta-data such as specimen collection coordinates.
Naturalist’s Workshop aims to provide a user-stimulated lesson on the value and usage of botanical collections for museum patrons of middle school, high school, and undergraduate/adult audiences in play sessions of 5-15 minutes.
This VR experience was made in collaboration with our friends and colleagues at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and the museum’s Naturalist Center. The application’s development occurred in the summer and fall of 2019 and is documented in the 2020 publication, The Naturalist’s Workshop: Virtual Reality Interaction with a Natural Science Educational Collection.