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Sneak peek at Scapa Flow Museum's Virtual Reality installation

Date: 23 December 2021

GIF image showing stills from the Virtual Reality display at Scapa Flow Museum.

The scale and spectacle of the Royal Navy’s largest base during the World Wars is being brought to life in a new virtual reality display at the Scapa Flow Museum in Orkney.

Part of the current £4.4m redevelopment of Scapa Flow Museum, it’s the first time a ‘VR’ (virtual reality) experience has been developed for a museum in the county.

Funded through CUPIDO, an international project developing new business opportunities in the culture and heritage sector, the VR display will allow visitors to ‘wander’ around the WW2 naval base at Lyness.

The project draws on the expertise of the University of St Andrews School of Computer Science. It’s one of several trans-national digital heritage projects supported by CUPIDO which sees Highlands and Islands Enterprise, in partnership with the University of St Andrews, working with communities and social enterprises across the North of Scotland to help economic development within the culture sector.

CUPIDO "Culture Power - Inspire Development in Rural Areas" itself is an Interreg North Sea Region cultural heritage project involving 16 partners from 7 regions around the North Sea. (Interreg Europe helps regional and local governments across Europe to share, develop and deliver better policy and is funded by the European Regional Development Fund.)

Ann Marie Reid, senior project manager at HIE, said: “We have been working with the University of St Andrews, through ‘CUPIDO’ to help the heritage sector adopt relevant technologies to modernise their cultural offering and enhance commercial growth.

“Scapa Flow Museum is a fantastic example of an organisation using innovative digital technology to reach a wider audience. It’s great to be able to offer people the virtual reality experience to retell the important story of Scapa Flow’s history and we look forward to seeing the project when its complete.”

Research Fellow at University of St Andrews' School of Computing Science, Sarah Kennedy, has been working closely on the project’s digital recreations: “We wanted to show visitors the extent and importance of the Naval base that once stood here. Using an immersive 3D exhibit we can demonstrate to museum visitors the scale and spread of buildings that covered the site.”

The Scapa Flow Museum is run by Orkney Islands Council and charts Orkney’s military involvement in the First and Second World Wars and provides a safe home for a major collection of wartime artefacts, many of national and international importance.

It is currently undergoing a refurbishment project valued at of £4.4 million, comprising an extension to the Museum and refurbishment of the historic pumphouse, supported by Orkney Islands Council, the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Historic Environment Scotland, the Orkney LEADER 2014-2020 programme, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, NatureScot and Museums Galleries Scotland.

When complete, the Museum will open all-year-round for the first time in many years, encouraging more people to visit Hoy and boosting tourism throughout the island.

The Museum is expected to open in summer 2022.


• Orkney Islands Council’s Arts Development Officer Emma Gee trying out the new Virtual Reality exhibit at Scapa Flow Museum in Lyness, Orkney during its initial testing recently.

• Two stills from the Virtual Reality display giving a glimpse of the extent of the Lyness naval base at its peak in the second World War.

• The Virtual Reality Pod sits within the Pumphouse, complementing the structure of the historic building.

Partner logos - Interreg North Sea Region CUPIDO; University of St Andrews School of Computing Science, Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

  • Summary:

    The scale and spectacle of the Royal Navy’s largest base during the World Wars is being brought to life in a new virtual reality display at the Scapa Flow Museum in Orkney.

  • Category:
    • Leisure and Culture
    • Arts, Museums and Heritage
    • Scapa Flow Museum

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