How Web3 technology can help historic sites
Metaverse events at ancient and historic sites may soon become an alternative future for tourism.
Owners of physical castles and villas who have drawn up augmented reality plans of their properties believe their ambitious plans to attract visitors to the metaverse will work, as virtual events can help them pay the heavy maintenance bills of their properties. aging properties and also offer a chance to change historical narratives.
The metaverse tourism model has been accelerated by the tourism downturns caused by COVID-19, but the industry may have already headed in that direction.
Currently, the major metaverse platforms are clunky, difficult to use, and await more “real estate” development, but companies are focusing on what could be. Brands seem to be entering the metaverse massively just to brag about PR.
So, it seems like the ability to learn from existing, new, and revised stories across the metaverse isn’t that far off.
Castles, villas and non-fungible castles
Michelle Choi, founder of 3.O Labs – a Web3 venture capital lab – has turned to digital opportunities to fund the upkeep of physical paintings, such as the sale of non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, as fundraising to preserve illiquid assets.
Choi was a product manager at Google when she noticed the slowdown in museum tourism due to COVID-19, seeing it as an opportunity for future metaverses. She then quit her job and began her own metaverse experiments.
She started by working with a team to launch Non-Fungible Castle, an NFT exhibition and auction at Lobkowicz Palace, an actual castle in Prague, held in October 2021. The event saw NFTs on display next to 500-year-old paintings and aimed “to widen accessibility to cultural heritage“.
The launch raised enough to cover the restoration of all urgent projects on the property. Motivated by this proof of concept, Choi and 3.O Labs are now actively curating metaverse tourism experiences on a global scale.
With the broader mission of making Web3 accessible to all users, 3.O Labs is already incubating an array of Web3 projects ranging from NFTs to Decentralized Autonomous Organizations, or DAOs. Within its metaverse vertical, the adventure lab is already building a project in a castle in Germany, which will be followed by a villa in India, and then possibly a museum in Ghana.
Choi spoke to Cointelegraph about his long-term vision for the metaverse journey:
“Travel will be increased as an educational tool. In the past, tourism meant visiting a place. Photos were 2D, but then 3D travel came with virtual headsets. 4D weather experimentation is now possible. Now we can mesh different time periods. There is a pedagogical angle.
This raises a series of questions regarding the new stories that will be created in the metaverse.
Will history be rewritten in the metaverse?
For better or worse, tourism businesses, educational platforms, and museums could reimagine history in the metaverse.
Priyadarshini Raje Scindia’s family owns Jai Vilas Palace, a 200-year-old palace-turned-museum in Madhya Pradesh, India. She plans an NFT collection produced by local artists to fund a metaverse experience. COVID-19 closed his museum for two years, allowing time for some necessary – but expensive – restoration work.
Scindia told Cointelegraph that NFTs should be considered art because “every generation has their art and interpretation. It is a new medium and a new platform for hungry emerging Indian artists. She added that “there should be no barriers around artistic creation”.
Scindia is convinced that the Metaverse is the future, because “a person usually visits a museum once”, but they can visit the Metaverse multiple times. She says that in India, in particular, museums are not the first destination where people think of having fun. Private museums in small towns can be taken for granted, especially when compared to shopping malls and cinemas. Thus, she works with 3.O Labs to “create immersive experiences – for example, animations that allow you to put yourself in short historical documentaries”. It’s about opening more doors for conversations and education.
Scindia also has a story to tell the world via the metaverse:
“I disagree with my family history. We have research papers rooms in the palace. Now is the right time and the right platform to correct history.
She told Cointelegraph that the historical narrative she would like to paint with her immersive experiences is “to tell the real story of my clan, the Maharatas. Telling the story told by the British, which sounds like a Game of Thrones book – dark and barbaric. We fought for independence from all outside forces, but it was made to look like we were fighting Indians in India. It is a historical fact that the Maharatas were the rulers of India after the Mughals. And their storytelling and value system are even more essential to study and understand today. I would like to use the platform to change the narrative through art, culture and history.
“I don’t agree with the way Maratha’s story is portrayed. However, today there is a resurgence of interest, perhaps because of the glamor of cinema, but there is also a new world. Today, people are very interested in history and are rediscovering art and history. The metaverse can be the right platform to inform and educate people, to create interest, so they can start their own journey of a deep dive into history, art and culture through this amazing world.
CAD for castles, villas and restorations of castles
Prince Heinrich Donatus of the Schaumburg-Lippe family owns Bueckeburg Castle, a castle located in northern Germany, 45 minutes from Hanover. Schaumburg-Lippe was one of the 16 ruling families of the German Empire until 1918. Later, the British Army of the Rhine confiscated the castle for use as their headquarters from 1948 to 1953. It was previously under American control after the end of the world. The Second World War in 1945 until the establishment of the German occupation zones.
A bullet hole in the outbuildings recalls the recent history of the castle. Americans were the first to arrive in Bueckeburg during the war, and their tank shell that penetrated the dome can still be seen in the castle museum. The family displays the shell and left the hole in the ceiling as a remembrance of the war.
Donatus has the same idea as Scindia: a metaverse for historical preservation.
Donatus, who co-founded 3.O Labs with Choi, will soon operate an NFT exhibit and DAO-focused hacker house at the castle. He told Cointelegraph that “the metaverse is not a virtual reality world. It’s a new economy. For example, the incentive to enter the metaverse might be to protect a castle.
But why support noble families in 2022?
For illiquid assets like sprawling properties, the cost of maintenance can exceed a family’s cash flow. Preserving private sites of historical significance is therefore a significant challenge for owners and a national or global public good.
In 2001, Donatus’ grandfather sold a castle for 1 euro, and the new owner’s last two attempts to sell the same castle for 1 euro found no takers. Donatus added:
“Foreigners who buy European castles give up after a year when they realize what’s going on.”
“Bueckeburg Castle is no longer intended to be inhabited – it is first and foremost a cultural site,” said Donatus, “We have the sole responsibility of maintaining this history by working with limited resources, and as a result, resources can be significantly upgraded and outsourced.”
“Virtual tours could be profitable, although metaverse ideas could take several years to pay off,” Choi noted. “But in the long run, there are no maintenance or air conditioning expenses for the metaverse.”
Donatus said he plans to launch a DAO treasury for the renovations, similar to a “people’s UNESCO” – a reference to the UN agency tasked with protecting sites of cultural and historical significance.
DAOs are not limited by borders, which can create network effects for new tourism models. “Kind of a PleasrDAO for castles,” Donatus said. “They will include decentralized castle access/stewardship and castle hackathons – because castles are a cool place to meet.”
Increased 4D Metaverse Events
Storytelling and historical experiences can also be augmented to create surreal and impossible scenarios.
“In no way do I want to experience things that I can experience in the real world,” Donatus said. “The metaverse can recreate and preserve the past.” He said that one could create a “tennis match in a ballroom at the Palace of Versailles like a large tourist map”.
Choi said, “In the metaverse, we can download guns and recreate wars for historical education.” Historical re-enactments with rebuilt weapons are happening all over the world, including the United States, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and Italy, and there may be many future teachable moments in the metaverse.
If metaverses are truly the future, planning for their rules and composition begins now. This is why, for example, a group of Australian Aboriginals are planning to establish an embassy in the metaverse. Mixing old and new is seemingly tenuous, but it all depends on how optimistic one is about the meaning of cultural totems in future metaverses.
As metaverses become new models for tourism, they may also rewrite history in the process.