The Ghent Altarpiece

Ghent, Belgium

The museum 3.0: ground breaking visitor centre (total fit out project)

The Ghent Altarpiece: where old and new innovative techniques meet

A new and ground breaking visitor centre opened in the Ghent cathedral. Because the cathedral is still very much a place of religious worship (as well as being a world heritage site), AlfaVision was asked to develop a visitor centre in the crypt & cathedral without detracting from the visually appearance of the monument by installing cables, screens etc. The role of AR glasses is therefore central in the development of this revolutionary total concept. 

The concept is also quite revolutionary in another way. The classic wayfinding was replaced by a personal digital assistant that shows the visitor the way and also handles the personal requests of the visitor.

The AR visit starts in the crypt, where a personal digital assistant leads you from chapel to chapel through the cathedral. In each chapel, visitors can follow an AR scene via their glasses, adding a virtually created layer of experience to the cathedral’s real environment. This impressive experience is further enhanced through strong storytelling.

Visitors enjoying the tour, each at their own level

The serenity of a liturgical place was respected

The blind AR tour: enhanced by a blind model of the cathedral

The AR tour

Next generation museum: personalized visit for every target group

Visitors can follow the building evolution of the cathedral, are taken back in time to the period when the Ghent Altarpiece was painted, and can witness all the events that have made this masterpiece so famous. To preserve the serenity in this liturgical environment, a limited number of beautiful masterpieces were carefully selected. They are, as it were, 'interwoven' in the experience of the AR circuit. The visit is also personalized: every family member enjoys and learns at his own level! 

Following this AR tour, there is then an opportunity to view the real-life painting in the cathedral! In short: the ultimate in visionary innovation with an unforgettable experience value. 

You can finally admire the other highlights in the cathedral via a carefully mapped out circuit.


Beautiful masterpieces interwoven in the AR tour

Explanation along the way about beautiful murals by your personal digital assistant

Your personal digital assistent along the way

The tablet version: an alternative to the glasses

Complete package: from strategy to implementation

As with Historium, it was Hans Vandamme, the managing director of The Historium and founder/ director of AlfaVision, who first thought of this revolutionary new museum concept.

To appeal to international visitors and all different target groups, it was decided - following research carried out by AlfaVision - to:

  • make an AR guided tour in nine languages;
  • make a short (30 minutes) and long (60 minutes) AR tour for each language;
  • to develop four versions, in order to:
  • make the experience as accessible as possible for visitors;
  • to make the experience as personalised as possible;
  • to ensure the every member of a family or group can enjoy and experience the visitors centre at his/her own level.

With this is mind, versions were made for: people with a visual impairment; children; families; and specialists. To further assist those with a visual impairment, ‘touchable’ models of both the cathedral and the central panel of the painting are installed. Specifically for the children’s version, the cathedral’s other top artefacts in display cases are brought to life using AR technology.

Design and development of the visitors centre from A to Z:

  • preparation: conducting target group research, a capacity study and a flow management study;
  • development of an innovative and visionary museum concept;
  • development of the scenography of the visitors centre;
  • development of AR content with future-proof software;
  • ensuring sufficient educational content, with appropriate storytelling and music for the different versions and language groups, supported by relevant historical research;
  • development of a navigation system for the AR glasses, with a digital assistant who leads the visitor through the AR experience;
  • development of a software platform, so that the actual use of the hardware (the AR glasses) is as easy and reliable as possible;
  • complete on site installation of the project, including the training of staff;
  • providing advice on marketing and sales, operational user-friendliness, HSE advice and the drawing up of staff profiles;
  • roll-out of a style guide (flyers, tickets, symbols, lay-out screens, staff badges, lanyards, etc.).

Blind painting of the central panel

Model of the city view for AR, based on historical research

Trailer movie - experience it
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