The Center for the Electronic Reconstruction of Historical and Archaeological Sites (CERHAS) is an interdisciplinary research and media lab at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP).

The Mission of CERHAS is to unite research, education and public awareness through innovative and accessible high-quality multi-media presentations, and to connect the importance of our heritage to our modern conditions in meaningful ways.

What we do. We begin with land and the human touch on it. We aim to re-create environments now degraded or disappeared, or environments which suggest alternatives to real places, using computer modeling and associated dynamic techniques. Our spatial visualizations are then formulated as immersive exploratory environments in order to deliver rich interactive multimedia content experiences. Our mastery of atmospheric virtual environments, controlled interactivity, spatialized information design, and layered media treatments, positions CERHAS to deliver cutting-edge outcomes across multiple audiences, applications, and topic areas. We have created works for public education in schools, interactive exhibits for museums, videos and exhibits for historic and archaeological sites, interactive DVDs, and works in other media.

“Interactive Media” re-defined. At CERHAS we are expanding the meaning of interactive media as we develop new ways to approach cultural heritage content. 1. Vivid spatial animations evoke the INTERACTING dimensions of human cultural experience as immersed in architectural and landscape settings. 2. Inclusive INTERACTIONS among diverse disciplinary and cultural perspectives illuminate the meanings of heritage sites and topics for life today. 3. Multiple content layers and INTERACTIVE navigation choices invite visitors to choose their routes through a rich array of experiences. 4. Shared viewing spaces (in our exhibit designs) encourage visitors to INTERACT with each other in discussing and selecting content. 5. Our exhibit space designs create INTERACTIONS among physical features, content panels, and virtual media treatments, creating a unified experience that reinforces take-home concepts.

We are scholars first, media designers second. As part of the University of Cincinnati, CERHAS is dedicated to sound scholarship as the basis for all we do. We hold our reconstructions to high and precise standards, and involve scholarly authorities in the planning and execution of all our projects. Within our own team we can draw on expertise in architectural history and practice, archaeology, history, public education, and presentation of material for a variety of audiences – as well as media expertise. We have proven the value of our own specific disciplines in bridging from “data” or “core subject matter” through media in order to reach diverse audiences. In the EarthWorks Project, for example, our experience with architectural interpretation and representation allowed us to improve dramatically over the usual representational methods used in archaeology, in order to convey better the qualities of the sites, and to engage audiences. Media experimentations led to a distinctive solution – “Interactive Video Navigation” or IVN, which combines key features of virtual reality with narrative documentary formats.

The value of exploration. While accurate scholarship is basic to our work, we value the ability of our programs to present a variety of voices and points of view. Our interactive media lend themselves to reflecting the open-endedness of knowledge. We can offer and juxtapose ideas from different people, places, and times, as parts of interactive journeys through learning environments.. Our particular emphasis on spatial and geographic orientation makes these journeys memorable, and helps people develop their own questions for further learning. And in our physical exhibit designs, we’ve set out to reflect a similar “spatial” experience: to embody the same spatial principles as the sites themselves.

Collaborative and Funding Partners have included:

Behringer Crawford Museum
Children’s Museum of Manhattan
Cincinnati Museum Center
Friends of Whitewater Shaker Village
George Gund Foundation
Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts
Institute for Aegean Prehistory
Midwest Regional Humanities Center
National Endowment for the Humanities
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
Ohio Arts and Humanities Councils
Ohio Board of Regents
Ohio Historical Society
Ohio River Way Inc
Ohio State University Newark
University of Tuebingen
US National Park Service