Esrum Kloster VR Reconstruction
Production year 2019 Esrum Kloster Henrik Zipsane Tine Danielsen Production team Khora: Project Lead: Matias Seidler CTO Peter Fischer 3D Artist Pia Hansen 3D Artist Casper Arp Knudsen Sound Anders Bjørn Rørbæk Pedersen
Esrum Kloster VR Reconstruction
The old abbey at Esrum (northern Zealand, Denmark) has a rich history and is a museum today. It was founded in 1151 and was once one of the largest and most famous abbeys in Denmark, but lost to us in 1559. Now, only one building remains. Esrum Kloster wanted to recreate the original abbey in virtual reality to allow visitors the ability to experience it. We collaborated with the historians at Esrum Kloster and used reference material from churches and abbeys throughout Europe to create this virtual tour that transports the audience back in time to Esrum Kloster at its height. Visitors can now virtually tour the entire abbey on an immersive historic and spiritual journey through the old halls and gardens.
How do you show and enliven a bygone era? How do you recreate a building of extreme beauty and complexity that no longer exists or which, in the case of Esrum Abbey, exists with only a tenth of its original size? And how do you communicate the atmosphere, the beauty, and the grandeur of a building? This has long been a major challenge of Esrum Abbey and Millfarm (EKM). Today, visitors can experience this historically important cultural heritage site in a virtual reality production, made in collaboration between Khora and Esrum Abbey and Millfarm. Esrum Abbey is originally a Cistercian Abbey founded in 1151. Until 1559, Esrum was one of Denmark's most significant abbeys. After the Reformation, most of the Abbey was demolished and only a single building has survived to this day. Over time, a village has emerged on the grounds of the Abbey. Which means it is almost impossible to imagine how the area looked, where magnificent buildings like the Abbey Church were situated, and how it has towered in the surrounding landscape. Today EKM is a modern cultural institution tasked with telling a broad and diverse audience about the abbey’s history in an inspiring and relevant way. However, this is challenging when only one building remains and the rest is hidden and inaccessible, lying underneath a mix of modern houses, old farmhouses, private gardens, cars and asphalt. Until now, visitors have been taken on guided tours with skilled guides painting pictures of the past in people’s minds of the abbey complex, demanding the visitors’ active imagination and open-mindedness. EKM has long wanted to give the visitors a more immersive experience. In collaboration with Khora, we began recreating the abbey in virtual reality. Using studies of the area, old drawings, copper engravings, paintings, pictures as well as reference pictures of other Cistercian abbeys from the same period in Denmark and throughout Europe, we have recreated to the best of our ability Esrum Abbey as it might have looked at the end of the 15th century. The experience is now a permanent part of the museum’s exhibition, allowing a first hand experience of this historically important cultural heritage site. "Thank you for this. It’s impressive and I think you should be proud. As a former museum director I have followed the development of VR use in museums over the past 20 years and I will especially congratulate you with the interactivity you have used in visualising the abbey. I’ve been at Esrum Kloster several times years back and can really imagine how your visualisation of the complete structure is fulfilling a need." – Henrik Zipsane, PhD. Director, European Museum Academy