by Bernard K. Means
This year, the Virtual Curation Laboratory participated in two events related to International Archaeology Day. The first was a few days early on October 14 on the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) campus. Entitled “Making and Mapping a 3D Printed Past,” this event was led by a VCU student organization, the Virtual Archaeology Scanning Team (VAST), and was intended to highlight the work of the Virtual Curation Laboratory to the broader VCU community, and more specifically anthropology students.
The VAST members certainly enjoyed themselves and there was a steady but not overwhelming stream of students during the three-hour event.
The second event that the Virtual Curation Laboratory held was a workshop at the 2016 annual meeting of the Archeological Society of Virginia (ASV) on October 17, which was the official International Archaeology Day. In this event, we wanted to expose the avocational and professional archaeologists to recent objects we had scanned from Virginia archaeological sites, as well as material from around the world.
As with the earlier event, we had numerous 3D printed objects, including a point typology chart with a 3D component created by VCU student Liz Ale, and a demonstration of replica painting by VCU students Lucia Aguilar and Zoë Rahsman. ASV members found both particularly interesting, and also looked over our range of printed materials, with that from Jamestown particularly grabbing people’s attention.
Both events I think were successful in reaching their small, but interested target audiences. However, they pale in comparison to the number of people reached at the non-traditional venue of a MakerFaire or MakerFest, as I detailed in a previous post. While it is certainly a worthy endeavor to reach those who already have an interest in archaeology, the overall number of people who attend such nice events may not be that large. One can potentially capture the attention of as many or more people at more crowded venues, including those who might have little prior knowledge as to what archaeology is or what archaeology does.
Or, maybe, I need to work more on how we market what we do in a competitive environment (we did compete with therapy puppies at VCU on October 14).