An Innovative 3D, Augmented Reality Shaker Village Project

virtual-geShaker Heritage Society recently completed a dynamic on-line resource called Virtual Watervliet (VWV).  Virtual Watervliet provides a high quality experience via a website or mobile application that helps users better understand the significance and development of America’s first Shaker settlement.

At the core of VWV, is the digital reconstruction of all known Shaker structures built in the publically accessible areas of the Watervliet Shaker National Historic District since the late 18th century.  The digital reconstruction allows users to fly through the historic site and to rotate 3D models of historic Shaker architecture.

Components of VWV are accessed via the Society’s webpage or a mobile device and include the 3D digital models, a timeline showing how the site changed in four different time periods, aerial photographs, site history, and Shaker biographies music. The experience offers multiple interactive ways to explore the content including map tours, historical map overlays, then and now photographs, and augmented reality.virtual-then-now

The project is receiving a lot of attention and recently won two significant awards.  The National Council on Public History gave VWV an Honorable Mention for Outstanding Public History Project.  This competitive national award is presented for work that contributes to a broader public reflection and appreciation of the past or that serves as a model of professional public history practice.  Museumwise: The Museum Association of New York issued an Award of Merit in the category of Innovation in Interpretation for VWV.  This is the highest honor given to institutions “whose projects represent outstanding contributions to the field and overall innovation and excellence.”   VWV also was recently highlighted in the Google Earth blog and was noted as being “impressive” and “unique.”

Virtual Watervliet was conceived and developed by Virtual Grounds Interactive in partnership with Shaker Heritage Society and with support from the New York Council on the Arts and the Assemblyman Reilly Fund.

To access the project, and to learn more about Shaker Heritage Society, visit their website at

Editor’s Note: The historic site is called Watervliet Shaker National Historic District because it was part of Watervliet during the period of Shaker occupancy.  Today, it is part of the Town of Colonie, and has an Albany mailing address.

One thought on “An Innovative 3D, Augmented Reality Shaker Village Project

  • November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    When the Shakers arrived in the area in 1776, it was part of Niskayuna. It then became part of Watervliet and remained so during most of the period during Shaker occupancy. Later, it became the Town of Colonie but our mailing address is Albany. The historic site is located across the street from Albany Airport (by the way, the Shakers helped clear the land for the airport).

    Don’t miss the historic maps, then and now photo overlays, biographies of Shakers and the selections of Shaker music recorded by Albany Pro Musica. There’s a lot to explore! This is intended to be a model project so, please contact me at Shaker Heritage Society if you have questions.


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