Business

How Web3 Technology Can Help Historical Sites

Metaverse events at ancient and historical sites could soon become an alternative future for tourism.

Owners of physical castles and mansions who have designed augmented reality blueprints of their properties believe their ambitious plans to lure visitors to the metaverse will work, as virtual events can help them pay the hefty maintenance bills on their aging properties pay, and also provide a chance to alter historical narratives.

The Metaverse tourism model has been accelerated by the decline in tourism caused by COVID-19, but the industry may have already moved in that direction.

Currently, major Metaverse platforms are clunky, difficult to use, and awaiting more “real estate” development, but companies are focused on what could be. Brands seem to enter the metaverse en masse just to brag about PR rights.

So it seems that the ability to learn existing, new, and revamped stories through the metaverse isn’t that far off.

Unacceptable castles, villas and palaces

Michelle Choi, founder of 3.O Labs – a Web3 venture lab – turned to digital ways to fund the upkeep of physical paintings, such as B. Selling non-fungible tokens or NFTs, as a fundraiser to preserve illiquid assets.

Choi was a product manager at Google when she noticed the decline in museum tourism due to COVID-19 and saw an opportunity for future Metaverses. She then quit her job and began her own Metaverse experiments.

She began working with a team to launch Non-Fungible Castle, an NFT exhibition and auction at Lobkowicz Palace, a real castle in Prague, taking place in October 2021. The event featured NFTs alongside 500-year-old paintings and aimed to “expand access to cultural heritage”.

The go-ahead was sufficient to cover the recovery of all urgent projects on the property. Motivated by this proof-of-concept, Choi and 3.O Labs are now busily curating Metaverse tourism experiences worldwide.

With the broader mission of making Web3 accessible to all users, 3.O Labs is already developing a number of Web3 projects ranging from NFTs to Decentralized Autonomous Organizations or DAOs. Within its vertical metaverse, Venture 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.

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Lobkowicz Palace. Source: Prague Morning

Choi told Cointelegraph about her long-term vision for Metaverse travel:

“Travel is expanding as a teaching tool. In the past, tourism meant visiting a place. Photos were 2D, but 3D journeys then emerged with virtual headsets. 4D time experiments are now possible. Now we can mesh different time periods. There is a teaching angle.”

This raises a number of questions about what new stories will be created in the Metaverse.

Will history be rewritten in the Metaverse?

For better or for worse, tourism companies, educational platforms, and museums could reinvent history in the metaverse.

Priyadarshini Raje Scindia’s family owns the Jai Vilas Palace, a 200-year-old palace-turned-museum in Madhya Pradesh, India. She is planning an NFT collection produced by local artists to fund a Metaverse experience. COVID-19 closed her museum for two years, leaving time for some much-needed – but expensive – restoration work.

Scindia told Cointelegraph that NFTs should be considered art because “every generation has its art and its interpretation. This is a new medium and platform for hungry, aspiring Indian artists.” She added that “there shouldn’t be barriers around creating artworks”.

Scindia is convinced that the Metaverse is the future since “a person normally visits a museum once”, but she can visit the Metaverse multiple times. She says that especially in India, museums are not the first destination that people think of for entertainment. Private museums in small towns are a matter of course, especially compared to shopping malls and cinemas. That’s why she works with 3.O Labs to “create immersive experiences — like animations that put you in the shoes of short history documentaries.” It’s about opening more doors for conversation and education.

Scindia also has a story to tell the world about the metaverse:

“I don’t agree with my family history. We have rooms with research documents in the palace. Now is the right time and the right platform to correct history.”

She told Cointelegraph that the historical narrative she hopes to paint with her immersive experiences is to “tell the true story of my clan, the Maharatas. Retelling the story of the Britons that sounds like a Game of Thrones book – dark and barbaric. We fought for independence from all outside forces, but it was pretended that we were fighting Indians in India. It is a historical fact that the Maharatas were the rulers of India after the Mughals. And their narrative and value system are even more important to study and understand today. I want to use the platform to change the narrative through art, culture and history.”

“I don’t agree with the way the story of Maratha is presented. Today, however, there’s renewed interest, perhaps because of the glamor of cinema, but there’s also a new world out there. People today are very interested in history and are rediscovering art and history. The Metaverse can be the right platform to inform and enlighten people, to spark interest so they can start their own journey to delve deep into history, art and culture through this amazing world.”

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Jai Vilas Palace. Source: Mohitkjain123

DAOs for castles, mansions and chateau restorations

Prince Heinrich Donatus of the Schaumburg-Lippe family owns Bückeburg Castle, a castle in northern Germany, 45 minutes from Hanover. Until 1918, Schaumburg-Lippe was one of the 16 ruling families of the German Reich. The British Army of the Rhine later confiscated the castle to use as their headquarters from 1948 to 1953. Previously it had been under American control after the end of World War 2 in 1945 until the establishment of the German Occupation Zones.

A bullet hole in the outbuilding is a reminder of the recent history of the castle. Americans were the first to arrive in Bückeburg during the war, and their tank shell, which penetrated the dome, can still be seen in the castle’s museum. The family displays the shell and left the hole in the ceiling as a reminder of the war.

Donatus has the same idea as Scindia: a metaverse for historical preservation.

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Buckeberg Castle. Source: TripAdvisor

Donatus, who co-founded 3.O Labs with Choi, will soon be running an NFT exhibition and DAO-focused hacker house in the castle. He told Cointelegraph, “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 such as sprawling estates, maintenance costs can exceed a family’s cash flow. The preservation of privately owned sites of historical importance is therefore a major 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 failed to find a buyer. Donatus added:

“Foreigners who buy European locks give up after a year when they realize what the issue is.”

“Schloss Bückeburg is no longer intended to be inhabited – it is primarily a cultural site,” said Donatus, “we have sole responsibility for maintaining this history with limited resources, and suddenly resources can be significantly improved and made available through crowdsourcing.”

“Virtual tours could be profitable, although Metaverse ideas could take several years to pay off,” Choi noted. “But over the long term, the metaverse will not incur any maintenance or air conditioning costs.”

Donatus said he envisages establishing the DAO treasury for renovation works, similar to a “people’s UNESCO” – a reference to the United Nations agency tasked with protecting sites of cultural and historical importance.

DAOs are not bound by borders, which can create network effects for new tourism models. “Sort of a PleasrDAO for castles,” said Donatus. “They will include decentralized access/management of castles and castle hackathons – because castles are a cool place to meet.”

Advanced 4D Metaverse Events

Historical storytelling and experiences can also be expanded to create surreal and impossible scenarios.

“Under no circumstances do I want to experience things that I can experience in the real world,” said Donatus. “The metaverse can recreate and preserve the past.” He said you could “host a tennis match in a ballroom at the Palace of Versailles as a major tourist attraction.”

Choi said, “In the Metaverse, we can upload weapons and recreate wars for historical teaching purposes.” Historical reenactments with reconstructed weapons take place all over the world, including the United States, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and Italy, and there can be many future instructive moments in the metaverse.

If metaverses are truly the future, planning their rules and composition begins now. For example, a group of Indigenous Australians are planning to set up an embassy in the metaverse. Blending the old with the new is seemingly flimsy, but it all depends on how optimistic one is about the meaning of the cultural totems in the metaverses of the future.

As metaverses become new models for tourism, they can also rewrite history in the process.