Norwich possesses one of the finest collections of civic portraits in the country. The collection contains one hundred and eighteen portraits, ranging from the sixteenth to the early twentieth century. The nearest parallels are the colleges at Oxford and Cambridge, and some of the London Livery Companies.
Developing the concept of virtual reality models beyond static buildings has provided the opportunity for a leading Norwich venue to interact with its visitors in a whole new way.
The Virtual Past team developed a virtual reality character who comes to life from one of the portraits in the Norwich collection. The portrait, which still hangs in Blackfriars Hall, is of Sir John Pettus, who provides visitors with a tour of the building and relates some of the history of his period.
Sir John was an alderman of Fyebridge 1598-1613, sheriff in 1598 and mayor in 1608. He was knighted by King James I and VI of Scotland in 1606. Traditional historical research on this interesting period of history has been used to develop the model and ensure that the completed animation is both entertaining and educational.
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University of East Anglia's Professor John Charmley, said: "It is important for our heritage to be made more widely available to the public in a lively and accessible format. The Sir John Pettus animation provides a unique way for users to explore historic buildings, archives and people, bringing them alive and promoting our heritage."