The My Armenia Program has launched a project with CyArk, a California-based non-profit organization that uses new technologies to capture, archive and share the world’s cultural heritage with the global community. In Armenia, CyArk will be scanning the historical Noravank monastery and the Areni-1 cave complex in Vayots Dzor province, as well as design products that promote and share Armenia’s cultural heritage in and beyond the country. These two iconic sites are, respectfully, of historical and archaeological significance.
Thanks to new virtual reality (VR) headsets, visitors are now able to virtually experience the magnitude and beauty of a heritage site, captured in every detail by CyArk’s scanning devices. Through motion tracking tools, users not only see the site but are also able to move virtually through the site and explore the surrounding area.
These kinds of virtual experiences are great for presentations during public events such as travel trade fairs, museums and educational institutions in order to interest and engage tour operators, researchers and other interested parties in the opportunities and experiences Armenia can offer. The My Armenia Program and CyArk will collaborate to design virtual and visual products that will be showcased at museum exhibits, including the 2018 Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C., as well as trade shows, marketing and investment events. CyArk will also process the acquired data to develop photorealistic virtual reality experiences to allow visitors appreciate Armenia’s unique cultural heritage, thus increasing global awareness of Armenia as a cultural tourism destination.
As part of My Armenia’s partnership with CyArk, a four-day workshop was also held at the Tumo Center for Creative Technologies for students and cultural heritage and architecture specialists. The training provided an overview of the three technological tools – photogrammetry, aerial imagery, and 3D scanning – CyArk will employ to document the Areni-1 cave complex and the Norovank monastery. Workshop activities included hands-on training with the equipment, scanning of sample sites in Yerevan, and data processing. Participants reviewed the captured data and learned about software applications for development of tourism materials such as virtual tours and videos. Workshop participants were also invited to follow CyArk’s field activities in Vayots Dzor to help promote the sustainability of such activities in the future.
The My Armenia program is funded by USAID and implemented by the Smithsonian Institution.
My Armenia supports the sustainability of Armenian cultural heritage through the development of an inclusive and dynamic tourism sector that engages and benefits Armenian communities across the country.