Inside The Mine: A Virtual Reality Experience

Sami WackerleUncategorized

The Canmore Museum and Geoscience Center is overjoyed to announce an exciting new exhibit which will be launching this Miner’s Day: Inside The Mine: A Virtual Reality Experience. “I can’t think of a more significant way to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the mine closure than the virtual reality experience. This will allow people of all ages to experience a Canmore mine from the 1930s,” said Jason Gariepy, Museum Director.

For the first time ever, CMAGS will be home to a Virtual Reality Experience which will allow a glimpse of what it was like in the Canmore Mines. Canmore’s rich and gritty mining past is responsible for the remarkable town we know today, and we are delighted to unveil this new form of tribute.

Mine Shaft: Work In Progress

To think that 40 years ago Canmore Mine was in full operation is unfathomable for some. It’s difficult to imagine what I’d be like to go to work in the mines each day. Long hours, painstaking work, and all with a fairly extreme degree of danger. Because this reality is so difficult to imagine, we’re pleased to make it a little bit easier.

“We have made deliberate decisions to include the advice and feedback of miners throughout the project. This makes the mine look and feel real. It is the closest you will ever get to being in a mine without being underground,” Jason continued. The new VR experience has been animated in collaboration with individuals who actually worked on the mines. It even features their voices as you walk through the virtual experience. The opportunity to tread digitally through the long-gone coal mines is one we could not be more grateful for and more excited to share with you. “Mining will always be part of Canmore’s history. The museum helps to keep those early years of the community’s history alive” Jason added.

Over the course of the next month, we will be sharing content from the designing and building process to give you a peek at what’s to come. But first, we’ve caught up with the man behind the virtual mine you will soon witness: Jerry Auld.

Jerry Auld

Jerry Auld is an Animator from Canmore. When the museum received a grant for this project, they made a call for proposals. Jerry’s was one of 9. “I put together a plan that was as authentic as possible and I was extremely committed to delivering on time for Miner’s Day. I was thrilled to be selected” he told us. “This is what I do. I’ve spent a lot of time building my skillset towards this and then, in my own home town, comes this perfect project. I’ve always been interested in the Canmore Mines, I’ve been studying them for years. This all seemed to align to be a perfect situation.”

Once Jerry’s proposal was selected, it was time to get to work. “We already had a plan. I just needed to build that model out and get everything all together. The VR was the next step to allow us to really go into the model. Next, I brought it to the miners to see what they thought about it. Of course, that brought a lot of changes for the better” he explained. “Seeing the miners witness the VR for the first time was so cool. They went in and couldn’t believe they were in a mine again. I felt really happy because they just pointed out little things they would change, but nothing fundamental. It was also really wonderful to connect with that generation, to work on something together that is keeping some of their experiences alive.”

Ed’s First Step Back Into A Mine

The Canmore Museum and Geoscience Centre believes this new exhibit will be transformational for, not only the museum but the entire town. It’s a sort of intergenerational connection we all crave. “When you look at pictures or browse through exhibits, you are working through your analytical mind, and you may have an interest in it, but you don’t necessarily have a connection to it. What this does is put you in the place so you can form a visceral, emotional connection to the place. When you come out of it, you may interact with the mine exhibits, pictures, and information as if they’re old memories because you’ve been there. It’s all about creating a deep, emotional connection to Canmore’s past” said Jerry.

We can’t express how much this new addition means to us, especially as we were able to collaborate with a local animator and some of the miners themselves. This is just a sign of what’s to come, and we hope you’ll all join us for the journey. “Our museum is working hard to move away from strictly having static exhibits to more personal and engaging experiences. The VR experience is going to transform the museum experience in Canmore” said Jason.