IDIA builds virtual museum in Unity 3D

Press release: Broad/MSU launches Virtual Broad Art Museum with original digital artworks on view in multi-user online environment

East Lansing, MI – The Virtual Broad Art Museum, a multi-user online environment developed in anticipation of the fall 2012 opening of the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University (Broad/MSU), launched today. Created by internationally recognized intermedia artists John Fillwalk and Adam Brown, the virtual space mirrors the architecture of the Zaha Hadid-designed museum, and provides an innovative and globally accessible venue for the presentation of cutting-edge interactive digital artworks. Four original works by Fillwalk, which make use of the Virtual Museum’s capacity to facilitate interaction between users and with the environment itself, have been created for the project launch. As the virtual world evolves, the work of other artists will also be integrated into the space.

“Engaging visitors with innovators at the leading edge of art and technology, both here at MSU and around the globe, is key to the Broad Art Museum’s mission,” said founding director Michael Rush. “With the Virtual Broad Art Museum, we have an opportunity to embrace the tremendous creative and connective possibilities that exist in the digital world.”

Rush commissioned John Fillwalk and Adam Brown to create the Virtual Broad Art Museum project in advance of the opening of the Broad/MSU, the new international contemporary art museum at Michigan State University. Fillwalk works in interactive installation, virtual reality and hybrid art environments, and directs Ball State University’s Institute for Digital Intermedia Arts, which explores the intersections of art, science and technology.

Brown is an Associate Professor of Art at Michigan State University, where he also directs the new Electronic Art & Intermedia program and its related research facility, the Form from Thought Laboratory.

The Virtual Broad Art Museum is accessible to the public through the museum’s website, at Users begin by choosing one of the featured works to experience. After entering the virtual museum, users select an avatar and move through the space with either a keyboard or a mouse, as they would navigate a virtual gaming environment.

Visitors have the option to interact with other users with a chat feature, and the space also facilitates virtual lectures and performances, with up to 100 visitors from anywhere in the world.

Screen shot from con|FLUENCE. (Image courtesy John Fillwalk,)

The following works by John Fillwalk are currently featured in the digital museum environment:

  • Proxy: In this interactive digital installation, visitors shape the construction of a sculptural and sonic composition as they move through the virtual museum. The work progresses to construct in relation to the museum itself, eventually integrating into structural support for the building and becoming one with the virtual museum environment. When multiple users are in the environment, their avatars interact with one another to create a collaborative work.
  • Flickr Gettr: Flickr Gettr connects the social image web service Flickr to the virtual museum environment, allowing visitors to “curate” a spatial and dynamic cloud of imagery by entering a search term of their choice, which will bring related images from Flickr into the museum space.
  • Survey: An immersive landscape simulation, Survey uses real time weather data from the physical location of the Broad Art Museum in East Lansing, Michigan. Representations of surveyor’s tape, flags, and clouds are superimposed onto the virtual landscape in accordance with the real-life data, which informs wind speed and direction, time of day, and cloud density in the digital environment.
  • con|FLUENCE: Participants in con|FLUENCE may create pathways based on reactions to both social and spatial relationships. There is a virtual response and persistence to interactions, as the routes are drawn and sculpted in the three-dimensional environment, forming nodes that are created via visitors’ proximity.

About Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University

The Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, a new Zaha Hadid-designed contemporary art museum at Michigan State University, is dedicated to exploring global contemporary culture and ideas through art. Opening in fall 2012, the dynamic 46,000-square-foot museum will serve as both a
teaching institution and a cultural hub for East Lansing and the region. In keeping with MSU’s commitment to applying knowledge to benefit society and further the global common good, the Broad’s program of original and traveling exhibitions, initiatives with living artists, performances, and educational offerings for students, faculty, and the community, will make the museum a center for questioning and understanding the modern world through engagement with artists and artwork from around the globe. With a collection containing 7,500 objects from the Greek and Roman periods through the Renaissance and on to the Modern, the Broad/MSU is uniquely able to contextualize the wide range of contemporary art practices within a firm historical context. The museum is named in honor of Eli and Edythe Broad, longtime supporters of the
university who provided the lead gift of $28 million.

For more information, visit