The Nordic World Heritage Award 2022 has been awarded to the Nordic World Heritage VR-Network represented by the World Heritage site Decorated Farmhouses of Hälsingland and Region Gävleborg. The award was presented at the annual Nordic World Heritage Conference at the Rjukan-Notodden World Heritage Site in Norway.
The Nordic World Heritage VR-Network has been initiated through the development work carried out by Culture Gävleborg (Region Gävleborg) regarding Decorated Farmhouses of Hälsingland, film and cross-media where the development of VR has been a step to increase accessibility. The network brings together five different World Heritage sites from five Nordic countries; in addition to the Decorated Farmhouses of Hälsingland also Röros in Norway, Kvarken Archiplego in Finland, Kongernes Jelling in Denmark and Thingvellir in Iceland and are financed by Nordic Culture Point in a long-term network support. Kultur Gävleborg and Decorated Farmhouses of Hälsingland represents by Anna-Karin Ferm, Henrik Harrysson and Josephine Rydberg and Lena Landström, County Administrative Board Gävleborg in the network.
Kultur Gävleborg started working with Virtual Reality (VR) already in 2016 in connection with the StoryTech conference. The VR work has since been developed in collaboration with the Decorated Farmhouses of Hälsingland, above all through the world heritage farm Bortom Åa, which can now be visited virtually in a special VR room at the County Museum in Gävle. Virtually all of the county's libraries have, through the VR experience, been able to offer their visitors a look inside and experience the world heritage farm, and many, both nationally and internationally, have taken an interest in Kultur Gävleborg's knowledge and development work over the years.
"The award is granted for innovative collaboration between Nordic World Heritage Sites, and the network will serve as an example and inspiration for many others. The network also gives new tools for interpreting World Heritage values and reaching a broader audience.”
– It is incredibly fun and great that a Nordic prize goes to us for the work that is done to develop, and at the same time, unite the Nordic World Heritage Sites, says Magnus Svensson, chairman of the culture and competence committee at Region Gävleborg
The World Heritage Convention, which turns 50 this year, is a cultural and peace project. Today, World Heritage plays a key role in relations with the rest of the world, fully in line with UNESCO's intentions. Today there are 1154 World Heritage Sites in 167 different countries. But the joy of learning and experiencing World Heritage can become more interesting and accessible. VR is a way to tell the great cultural stories and at the same time reach out to a new audience to understand the World's cultural heritage.
– The World Heritage Convention is a peace document where international work is central. Through the World's cultural and natural heritage, we see the history of humanity, but also our own future. We have taken the initiative for a successful Nordic collaboration and have been rewarded for it. Now we are shifting up to the next level in world heritage work. Through the Decorated Farmhouses of Hälsingland and the development work it generates, we put our region on the world map.
There are several World Heritage Sites that have developed VR experiences independently of each other. Sharing results is a way to consolidate progress made and to learn from each other. The goal of the Nordic World Heritage VR-Network is to develop each other's experiences, also artistically, and make them available on each other's sites. The Nordic World Heritage VR-Network shall facilitate the exchange of ideas and knowledge in order to communicate the value and content of World Heritage via VR.