Open Cabinet: AR access to Oxford’s collections

IT Innovation ChallengesStaff project carried out by the Oxford Internet Institute, in partnership with the Pitt Rivers Museum and IT Services.

2018 staff round

For more information, read the blog posts Meet the new project: Open Cabinet and Cabinet of (Christmas) curiosities or explore Cabinet at

Contact the project through 


Cabinet is an award-winning platform for embedding museum objects into University teaching and learning, originally funded by the IT Innovation Fund in 2015. From July 2018, it will be adopted as a University service and fast-tracked into the new Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), Canvas. Key to its success are high-resolution interactive 3D models, which enable digital ‘handling’ to support learning.

Open Cabinet will use augmented reality (AR) technology to create new opportunities for enriching University and lifelong learning through virtual handling of 3D artefacts in the museum. The project has two intertwined aims: to embed objects more deeply into the learning experience at Oxford by facilitating their use as unique learning resources by staff and students, and to enhance the public visitor experience by using this innovative technology to improve access to objects without altering the highly-valued appearance and atmosphere of the museums.

This project is a partnership between the Oxford Internet Institute, IT Services, and the Pitt Rivers Museum, which offers an ideal environment in which to explore the potential of AR. Display cases at the Pitt Rivers are often densely packed, making it challenging to view individual objects. AR offers a potential solution: an interactive experience which puts objects in users’ hands without disturbing the existing displays, or the environment of the museum. The experience will be further enriched through links to related, currently undisplayed, content. The new interface will also aim to reduce barriers to visitors with additional needs through a range of accessible features.

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