A Virtual Moonwalk on Futures X Meta

A 3D virtual reality experience constructed from 7,000 historical moonwalk photos.

The Smithsonian’s oldest museum temporarily reopens for the first time in nearly two decades as part of “FUTURES,” the organization’s first significant, entire-building exploration of the future. The award-winning architecture firm Rockwell Group created the exhibition/festival hybrid to commemorate the Smithsonian’s 175th anniversary. It features more than 150 mind-blowing ideas, prototypes, installations, and artifacts that blend art, technology, design, and history to inspire visitors to envision a variety of futures.

The Smithsonian’s Arts and Industries Building and Meta launched the FUTURES x Meta: Moonwalk VR based experience at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., timed with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo missions. This experience showcased Meta’s vision for immersive exploration in the metaverse and allowed visitors to “land on the moon,” seeing the lunar surface for the very first time as the astronauts did. A Meta Quest VR 360-degree headset was used for the multi-modal experience, which combined graphics, video, augmented reality, and VR content.

The “Moonwalk” exhibit, created by Sparks and based on the actual experiences of Apollo astronauts, combined thousands of never-before-seen archival images, 3D scans of Smithsonian archives, and NASA mission audio recordings with virtual reality technology to recreate the lunar environment and let visitors explore the lunar landscape.

Three augmented reality experiences, a 360-degree VR “moonwalk” experience, a queue area with a Meta video display and sizzle reel, and other elements made up the immersive experience. A specially designed and built cart was merged into the design to allow the 12 brand ambassadors to move into and out of the space for sanitization and to bring in new headsets. Our scope included venue management, spatial design and planning, exhibit fabrication, VR demos and registration management, A/V and lighting management, speaker management, F & B, labor, and the production of the Meta-branded videos.

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