Ure Museum – University of Reading virtual collaboration with ICOM UK – British Council travel grant

Claudina Romero Mayorga, Education Officer at the Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology (University of Reading) developed a virtual collaboration with the Bank of Cyprus Cultural Foundation. This is Claudina’s report about the collaboration.

Although the original idea was to travel to Cyprus to become familiar with the educational programme of the Bank of Cyprus Cultural Foundation, the pandemic hindered this endeavour. The digital offer provided by the Ure Museum (University of Reading) and the BOCCF over that difficult time, however, allowed us to develop an online relationship, establishing this new arena to re-design the project.

The Ure Museum preserves objects from many ancient Mediterranean civilisations – including 100 artefacts from Cyprus and the BOCCF holds the Museum of George and Nefeli Pierides (donated by Clio and Solon Triantafyllides), covering a wide chronological arc of local archaeology. Both institutions rely on similar pedagogies: object-based learning, storytelling, theatre activities, etc., which encouraged us to develop projects to learn from each other.

While “Cyprus in 3D” at the Ure Museum focused on 3D printing a series of figurines of  Kamelarga style (750-480 BC), the BOCCF was also experimenting with replicas made of limestone, plaster, clay, and filament. The new project proposed to deliver a series of online tutorials to our Cypriot colleagues to introduce the use of 3D technologies with the hope of creating a “new” joint online collection to promote the development of shared educational activities.  

Thanks to online meetings that both institutions hosted since 2019, I got to meet the Director of the BOCCF, Ioanna Hadjicosti, and Christodoulos Hadjichristodoulou, curator of the same institution. Ioanna introduced me into the recent ReInHerit funding they were granted, in the framework of the Horizon 2020 CSA programme, which seeks to facilitate innovation and research cooperation between European museums. Coincidentally, my project matched the same objectives.

Over the 3D tutorials I provided, I was delighted to get to know Antrea Oratiou (an archaeologist who is also part of the educators’ team), Irini Khenkin and Katerina Patsalidou, both curators and researchers of the different collections that the BOCCF hosts.

The BOCCF has a large team of educators, who welcome primary schools but also host family activities and programme specific workshops for each season, such as “Senses”. According to Antrea, Irini and Katerina, the most popular programmes among visitors are those on pottery, coins, nature (botany, local ecosystem and diet), and special thematic ones based on temporary exhibitions and theatre games. Promoting accessibility to vulnerable visitors is their key target.

After experimenting with different online platforms to host meetings, we got together to discuss the usefulness of 3D technology in museum educational sessions. The series of meetings were structured in three parts: 1) An introduction to new technologies at the Ure Museum (RTI-Reflectance Transformative Imaging and Photogrammetry); 2) How to obtain a 3D model of an object; 3) How to use 3D models and 3D printed replicas in museums.

In the first part, I explained how the Ure Museum experimented with RTI using an Egyptian limestone sketch and a fragment of Greek pottery. I also showed them good and bad examples of 3D models obtained through Photogrammetry and the learning curve that we experienced at the Ure.

In the second part, I provided my colleagues in Cyprus with a step-by-step tutorial on how to use Zephyr and Agisoft Metashape. I emphasised how time-consuming 3D modelling is, and the importance of setting clear objectives when using photogrammetry as an educational resource.

Here the challenge was to have a computer powerful enough to use 3D modelling software and host a videocall at the same time. Fortunately, the online meetings were only once interrupted by a glitch in the system.

The third part proved to be especially fruitful since my Cypriot colleagues explained their own needs when it came to educational resources, the challenges they face and how a collaboration between the Ure and the BOCCF could help to make collections and the use of new technologies accessible to all our visitors.

BOCCF’s colleagues offered an insightful perspective on how replicas and augmented versions of objects – such as coins – were used as sensorial resources for those visually impaired. This is an aspect that we have not yet explored in our “Cyprus in 3D project”, but that it could be further developed by appealing to a specific sector of our local community in Reading.

Moreover, Antrea, Irini and Katerina pointed out that collaborating with local creative practitioners (performers, ceramicists, musicians, and art therapist) when delivering educational sessions was especially appealing to visitors who wanted to address mental health issues as well as those identified in a vulnerable position. The BOCFF hosts special sessions for those grieving or in a difficult situation, which shows the potential use the collection to tackle social issues and benefit the society. By introducing multiple points of interaction using sensorial stimulation, BOCCF educators promote accessibility to their collection and have experience with visitors with different learning capabilities. By creating a “virtual” joint collection and educational programme to accompany it, the Ure will delve into sensorial pedagogies and both institutions will upload 3D models to “fill voids” in the collections and start a dialogue on shared heritage and decolonisation.

Advice for museum professionals new to working internationally

While travelling is again possible after the pandemic, a dramatic increase in travelling fees and the development of online meeting platforms has favoured a new way to get together without some of the traditionally associated costs.

Although appealing to international museums may seem scary at first, they are usually eager to collaborate with other institutions, even if it is a small university museum like the Ure. Please be aware that time-wise, each museum has its own working rhythm, so do not expect quick replies to your enquiries. In addition, always be accommodating to their time zones and working schedules:  some of the staff might work only part-time or have a wider role (i.e. educator and curator at the same time).

Exchanging experiences – either curatorial or educational – is a great starting point, as you would not only be enquiring in their field, but you would also be offering your own know-how and skills set to provide them with creative suggestions to shared obstacles, problems, etc.

Next Steps

Jointly with the BOCCF, I have created a new “online” collection and developed educational activities for different audiences based on sensorial methodologies. A continued support both by the Ure Museum and BOCCF staff would be appreciated to further the pedagogic offer focused on the analysis of both collections.

In order to expand this project, it would be interesting to involve volunteers, students, and local visitors from the two institutions, and offer tutorials to introduce new technologies (such as photogrammetry) as part of their learning experiences. The Ure Museum has already implemented these notions in its calendar, promoting the creation and use of 3D models for “Digital Classics”, “Festival of Archaeology”, etc. Obtaining 3D models of more objects would not only boost collaboration and sense of   camaraderie among volunteers, but it would also propel analysis of the artefacts, study of preservation strategies, and enquiry in provenance.

Hopefully, this project will favour synergies with other institutions (in the UK and in Cyprus) to continue assessing the usefulness of research and teaching undertakings based on 3D models, and their potential to tackle multiple issues in museums after the pandemic, such as increasing the number of visitors, facing budget restrictions, encouraging staff with creative ideas, etc. In the end, working with objects and delving into the sensorial reactions they provoke, would make of museums a safe place to develop creativity, innovation, collaboration, and social interaction.

Since this endeavour relies on online partnership, extra IT support to grant good quality PC’s, a stable internet connection, and continued maintenance of hardware and software would be appreciated.


What I learnt from my colleagues at the BOCCF was the way they use objects to provoke sensorial reactions in their visitors, and how these interactions were part of their programme offered to vulnerable people (grief support, depression, etc.). The BOCCF staff were surprised to see the many potential uses of 3D models and 3D printed replicas, especially when visitors emulate ritual movements around the display space in the museum.  

Getting to know how my BOCCF colleagues focus the educational offer on sensorial experiences and their beneficial influences on mental health issues, it has encouraged me to look for training opportunities in those areas to expand on the positive usefulness of 3D printed replicas.

It is unfortunate that this project was postponed and changed so much because of COVID-19 delays, yet we are delighted that she was able to convene such a useful and congenial set of workshops focused on 3D modelling and photogrammetry in museums, which will enable the BOCCF to effectively capture and digitize their collections, with a view to creating immersive digital experiences that reach out to wider audiences. At the same time it is great that we have been able to collaborate with Cypriot museum staff, and thus highlight the importance of the Ure’s Cypriot collection and encourage future longer-term collaborations.

Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology (University of Reading)

The collaboration between the Bank of Cyprus Cultural Foundation and the Ure Museum, led by Claudina Romero Mayorga, has had a significant impact on our approach to our educational programming. Through the workshops focused on 3D modelling and photogrammetry in museums, the BOCCF has gained valuable knowledge and expertise in implementing these technologies. The step-by-step guidance will enable us to effectively capture and digitize cultural artifacts, creating immersive digital experiences for our audiences.

Comparing different pedagogical approaches, we were able to find similarities and differences between the educational programs of the two museums. Through Claudina’s instruction, we are now able to implement new technologies and expand the scope of inclusivity and accessibility of the educational programs, as well as create new contributions as educational facilitators. Having the knowledge on how to produce these models and technologies in-house has provided us with agency over the content and type of programs provided, outside of the purview of our external collaborators.

As a result of this collaboration, the BOCCF will enhance its ability to preserve and share its cultural heritage. By utilizing 3D modelling and photogrammetry techniques, one of our objectives is to transform traditional museum exhibits into interactive and accessible digital resources.

Bank of Cyprus Cultural Foundation