The LeDuc Historic Site in Hastings, Minnesota is a museum open to the public and, as such, needs to comply with the Federal Americans with Disabilities Act. Because the site features restored, historic buildings they could not be retrofitted for access to people with physical disabilities that would prevent them navigating stairs.  A “Virtual Tour” presented on a dedicated kiosk computer in a wheelchair accessible part of the museum would comply with the ADA by allowing disabled visitors to still see the parts of the museum they could not physically access.

Virtual Tour Intro Animation
(converted to video, original is Flash without sound)

I was involved in this project from the conception and helped draft the grant proposal that ultimately secured funds for the project. I had to coordinate with the Dakota County Historical Society, LeDuc museum staff, and multiple contributing authors.

The mansion was still in the midst of renovations when I began working on this project, and photography couldn’t begin until repairs were completed.  Due to the drawn-out timeline the original photographer backed out of the project.  Because I couldn’t do my part without pictures I also took on the photography job as well.  In the end the project took two years to complete and included almost 100 Quicktime VR panoramas and over 100 still photos.

The end result was an interactive virtual tour featuring still and VR panoramic photography of the buildings and grounds of the estate – including areas off-limits to actual tours – and a Flash animation introduction.

Virtual Tour Tutorial
(converted to video, original is Flash without sound)

The tutorial video above should give you an idea of how the virtual tour worked.  The tour was never updated for modern browsers and was originally intended only for use on a dedicated kiosk configured to run it.  If you use Safari or Firefox and have the Quicktime 7 and Flash plugins installed the archived tour at the button below should (mostly) work for you:

tour iconView Virtual Tour

Important: Tour makes use of pop-ups and plugins so you will need to allow them. Fullscreen now only works correctly in Firefox.  The tour will not work in Chrome or Opera because they no longer support any third-party plugins.

Tools Used: Dreamweaver, QuickTime Pro, VRWork, Flash, Photoshop

Note: I maintained and updated the project until 2008. I suggested it be redesigned to support mobile devices, but they didn’t have money at that time to have the tour redone. The museum replaced it with a new virtual tour this year, in which I had no involvement.