Innovation


The Virtual Armory is the product of more than a decade of collaboration between the Higgins Armory Museum, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and now the Worcester Art Museum, the new home of the Higgins collection. Most of the content on this site was created by student teams from WPI, working in collaboration with the Higgins Armory to explore the potential of digital technologies for museums in the 21st century. The outcome was a small museum offering online content that compared favorably with institutions many times its size, while providing outstanding learning and life experiences for the students who took part. We encourage others to make use of the ideas developed for the Virtual Armory to enhance their own online profile. This section highlights some of the material that might be useful.


Much of the content of the Virtual Armory originated as Interactive Qualifying Projects. The IQP is a signature feature of the WPI education plan, a yearlong interdisciplinary project undertaken by teams of students in their junior year. The IQP looks at technology in relation to the human beings who use it, and since the 1980s, IQP teams have worked with the Higgins collection, originally at the Armory and now at the Worcester Art Museum, studying historical technology through the collection.


Since 2000, many of these projects have explored the potential of digital technologies to interpret the collection for modern audiences. The Virtual Armory was developed in 2010-14 to bring this material together into a single integrated site. The following students took part in its development: Robert Bass, Daniel Cotnoir, Jeffrey Elloian; Runzi Gao, Kai He, Seth Lipkind, Elizabeth Mayor, Justin McLaughlin; Nate Krach; Mi Tian, Charlie Bickle, Josh O'Connor, and Chris Ellen.