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The Economist uses virtual reality to reconstruct museum lost in IS attack

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By Jessica Goodfellow | Media Reporter

January 28, 2016 | 3 min read

The Economist is collaborating with Project Mosul, a group dedicated to the preservation of cultural heritage, in using virtual reality (VR) to reconstruct the historical sites and artefacts from Iraq’s Mosul Museum, which was destroyed by the Islamic State.

The initiative, RecoVR Mosul: A collective reconstruction, will be part of the Learning Technologies Exhibition in Olympia and uses crowd-sourced imagery to digitally reconstruct the heritage that has been destroyed from the Museum.

VR headsets provided to viewers of the exhibition will showcase the antiquities from Mosul, accompanied by a voiceover that takes the visitor through years of history.

According to archaeologists, Iraq’s northern city of Mosul had the majority of the country’s archaeological wealth, with over 3,500 sites of significance. This attack is just one example of how thousands of years of history can be lost in a second.

Tom Standage, deputy editor at The Economist commented: “In real life it’s no longer possible to visit the Mosul museum or see these destroyed artefacts. But RecoVR: Mosul lets you experience them in virtual reality, with The Economist as your museum guide, explaining the bigger picture. This is our first venture into VR, a medium which offers huge potential for new kinds of storytelling.”

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Matthew Vincent and Chance Coughenour, co-founders of Project Mosul, added: "One of the early objectives of Project Mosul was to bring the Mosul Cultural Museum back to life through a virtual reality medium. Through the work of both The Economist and Project Mosul's international network of volunteers, individuals from around the globe can virtually visit the Museum, giving a new, digital life to lost heritage."

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