In a captivating leap through time, the Muzium Perak in Taiping has joined forces with a team of researchers from Pennsylvania State University, USA, to offer a unique glimpse into the tumultuous days of the Second World War. Pioneering the use of Virtual Reality (VR) technology, the exhibition ‘Malaysia Era of the Second World War’ has been making waves since its opening on August 19th, showcasing a riveting collection of experiences that transports visitors to the bygone era.
The brainchild of this collaboration, the Malaysian Second World War Oral History project, delves into the lives of those who braved the Japanese occupation of Malaya between 1941 and 1945. Drawing from the poignant narratives of 20 survivors, the project expertly weaves together conventional testimonies with VR technology to create an immersive journey into the past. Through the Oculus system, patrons can explore a meticulously recreated 1940s household, complete with a virtual living room, kitchen, and outdoor area that paints a vivid picture of life during wartime.
The exhibition’s pièce de résistance lies in its expert use of 360-degree VR, navigable through Oculus Meta Quest 2 and mobile VR. A highlight of the showcase is the oral history section, meticulously curated by the research group. Spearheaded by Dr. Cheryl L. Nicholas, this section seamlessly integrates video montages and compelling interviews conducted between 2013 and 2017.
Remarkably, the exhibition space is adorned with authentic furniture and artefacts belonging to war victims, adding a tangible layer of authenticity to the immersive experience. Visitors can virtually traverse the rooms, clicking on items to reveal short video snippets of war survivors’ poignant stories. Nor Hisham Zulkiflee, Vice-Chairman of the Malayan History Group Association, lauds the initiative as a novel approach to historical education, fostering a deeper connection with the nation’s past.
The exhibition’s launch witnessed an impressive turnout, with nearly 7,000 local and international visitors thronging the Muzium Perak. Zulkiflee is optimistic about the technology’s enduring impact, envisioning its expansion to adapt to evolving times. As the curtains draw on this pioneering exhibition on September 31st, it leaves an indelible mark, showcasing how cutting-edge technology can seamlessly blend with historical reverence, ushering in a new era of immersive learning.