Ever since the release of the Samsung Gear VR institutions and museums have been using virtual reality (VR) as a way to better connect the audience with their subject matter. While this has generally meant physically visiting a location and experiencing a VR exhibit, the London Museum of Water & Steam is transporting itself into your home instead.
Having launched its London Museum of Water & Steam app on Steam recently for HTC Vive and Windows Mixed Reality headsets (unusually Oculus Rift isn’t listed), the museum has provided a virtual tour of its exhibits.
Founded in 1975, the London Museum of Water & Steam is an independent museum run by the Kew Bridge Engine Trust and Water Supply Museum Limited with the goal to restore (and maintain) the five historic beam engines at the Kew Bridge site, add other important water pumping engines and to establish a museum of London’s water supply.
As you’ll be able to see, the site is centred on a collection of stationary water pumping steam engines dating from 1820 to 1910. Whilst exploring the museum and the functioning steam machines you come across the world’s largest collection of working Cornish engines, including the Grand Junction 90 inch, the largest engine of its type in the world.
Underlining some of the history surrounding the site the official description states: “Kew Bridge Pumping Station was originally opened in 1838 by the Grand Junction Waterworks Company, following a decision to close an earlier pumping station at Chelsea due to poor water quality. In the years up to 1944 the site expanded, ultimately housing six steam pumping engines as well as four Allen diesel pumps and four electric pump sets. The steam engines were retired from service in 1944, although two were kept on standby until 1958, when a demonstration run of the Harvey & Co. 100 inch engine marked the final time steam power would pump drinking water at the site.”
So if you’re a fan of all things steam related, or just want brush up on a bit of history, the London Museum of Water & Steam app is available via Steam for free. For any other interesting historic VR apps, keep reading VRFocus.
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