The Swartz-Manning: A VR Museum, Art Gallery, and Fun House

By Lisa Rein

Many of us experimented with AR and VR at last year’s Aaron Swartz Day, and some of us decided to keep going with our projects.

Now some of those projects are merging with a virtual reality vision that was first planted as a seed in my head, in 1995, by Dr. Timothy Leary.

Picture of the first card Lisa Rein ever sent Chelsea Manning. September 2015.
Aaron’s code

A small team has been working closely with me on the first exhibit of what will be “The Swartz-Manning VR Museum, Art Gallery, and Fun House.”  This first exhibit will provide a detailed history of Aaron Swartz Day, including the story of how our community rallied behind Chelsea Manning. The second exhibit with be a “Dr. Timothy Leary” wing, with an exhibit explaining the history of Dr. Timothy Leary, from the very beginning. I am working on the exhibit with Dr. Leary’s son Zach, and his Personal Archivist, Michael Horowitz.

There will be numerous other museum and art gallery exhibits to follow. The art exhibits in progress are numerous and range from a desert landscape, recreated via photogrammetry, to paintings you can step into and walk around in, to re-creations of historical rooms and locations, with journals you can read through.

The Swartz-Manning VR Museum, Art Gallery, and Fun House will include four different types of installations:

1) A “traditional” kind of museum, in Virtual Reality.

2) A “Fun House” version of the museum’s archival content.

3) An experimental Art Gallery platform with templates to enable artists to exhibit their own creations in VR.

4) Educational zones where users can learn how to quickly build their own VR spaces using CAD templates.

5) A focus on teaching “Solar Survival Technologies” – using VR and special inventions by our team members, to help teach homeless folks, and those that might be temporarily homeless after a natural disaster, how to build devices such as solar cell phone chargers.

We are experimenting with photogrammetry to construct 3-D models of interesting objects from several historical archives and also locations in nature, such as the desert.

The goal is to use a 3D scanner for some objects, and use photogrammetry “in the wild” for taking pictures of living objects. (I have a team member in the Imperial Desert, for instance, capturing wild flowers and insects there.)

We are looking to partner with 3-D scanning companies and VR haptics companies, and various hardware accessory companies of all kinds. (Contact: Lisa Rein: lisa[at]

I am collaborating on the project on Tuesday nights with the folks at the Gamebridge Unityversity Meetup at Noisebridge in San Francisco, on Tuesday evenings.

See you there, if you’d like to learn more or contribute. Or email lisa[at]

November 4-5, 2017