The Việt Nam Women's Museum has unveiled a three-dimensional virtual experience to provide insight into Vietnamese betel and areca culture.

The practice of chewing betel has deep cultural roots in Vietnamese traditions and is a customary element in engagement and wedding ceremonies, as well as during conversations.

The virtual exhibition project was carried out by a team of researchers from RMIT Vietnam, Dr Emma Duester, Ondris Pui, and Michal Teague, as part of the Built with Bits event organised by Europeana, the flagship initiative of the European Union that supports digital transformation in the cultural heritage sector.

Europeana awarded the Beyond Borders Project, which is given to participants outside the EU for projects that use the Europeana open license content and demonstrate originality and relevance.

Under the project, ten artefacts from the Việt Nam Women's Museum collection were turned into 3D models.

The 3D objects were created using photogrammetry, with around 100 to 200 photos of each artefact taken from different angles with a mobile phone and processed into 3D models.

Complex artefacts such as garments and intricate objects were scanned using industrial 3D scanners.

Once in 3D format, the assets can be used for various purposes, such as adding them to virtual and augmented reality spaces for education.

The virtual exhibition project also included artefacts from other countries, such as Sri Lanka, New Guinea and India, and from the Europeana archives to compare different betel nut cultures.

Visitors to the 3D virtual space can rotate and zoom into individual artefacts, scribble notes, add emojis, and chat with a voice. The virtual environment allows participants to access the exhibition from their devices, such as mobile phones, computers, and virtual reality headsets.

The Việt Nam Women's Museum plans to include the virtual space on its website as an extension of its physical exhibits.

"We are now able to share the museum's collection with the world,” said Lê Cẩm Nhung from the museum's International Co-operation Department.

Visitors can access the 3D Vietnamese Betel Nut Village individually or in a group at Mozilla Hubs: — VNS