VR Lab Class, University of Pennsylvania 2020

For the Spring semester at Penn, a group of students in our Virtual Reality Lab were challenged with an assignment: divide up into three teams, select an object from the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and interpret that object in a VR film. The students visited the museum several times, met with curators, and planned their films.

French Cloister with Elements from the Abbey of Saint-Genis-des-Fontaines c. 1270-80

Ceremonial Japanese Teahouse: Sunkaraku (Evanescent Joys) c. 1917

Girl’s Trained Dress with Bust Pads c. 1868-69

Well, that was before COVID-19 shut the university and museum down and scattered our students to the four corners of the globe. We re-thought the assignment: interpret one of the three objects as a personal film focusing on what the object personally means to you. We were not interested in the first thing that came to mind, or something superficial. We asked the students to dig deep, and really get to some fundamental truth about themselves that the object helps to illuminate in them.

The results are stunning, as we’re sure you’ll agree. Seventeen students, 17 different takes on the assignment. And to make things interesting their instructors also joined in and added films to the mix. The students were so thoughtful and supportive throughout the process, making suggestions and reviewing each other’s edits. We hope you will enjoy the films.

Peter Decherney, University of Pennsylvania

Ariel Schwartz, Philadelphia Museum of Art 

Melisande Mclaughlin, University of Pennsylvania


Alice Bian

Jean Chapiro, The Way of Tea

Gizem Dal

Peter Decherney

Maxwell Deng

Brittany Levy

Ericka Lu

Alina Peng

Jessica Ramses

Galena Sardamova

Yuxi Wei

Michael Wenger

Adel Wu (password: vrlab)