The Politecnico di Milano partner in the MARSS project

The Department of Mechanics collaborates with INAF in the renovation of the Brera Astronomical Observatory Museum


The project MARSS ‘MusAB in Augmented Reality from Science to Society’ has begun. Financed by Fondazione Cariplo under the call ‘Luoghi di innovazione culturale - 2019’ [Places of Cultural Innovation], it will be realized at the Brera Astronomical Museum (MusAB) at the INAF Astronomical Observatory of Brera (project leader), in collaboration with the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the Politecnico di Milano.

The Brera Astronomical Museum (MusAB) houses a collection belonging to the National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) at the Astronomical Observatory of Brera, which was founded in about 1760. The observatory is the oldest scientific institution in Milan. Today it forms part of INAF, the Italian research entity dedicated to astrophysics and cosmology, and is a centre of research excellence recognized worldwide.

The museum collection is composed of instruments used by astronomers in 250 years of history, as well as documents stored in the extensive archives and a valuable library of 35,000 historical books: unparalleled proof of the city’s scientific and cultural activities. The MusAB also includes the famous Schiaparelli Cupola, an observational dome located on the roof of the Observatory, where Giovanni Virginio Schiaparelli, director of the Observatory from 1862 to 1900, sat to observe Mars and draw the first maps of it.

One objective of the MARSS project is to create an innovative exhibit based on the use of digital technologies to support the narration and make the time spent at the museum engaging and interactive.

The new museum exhibit will allow the MusAB collection to be illustrated more comprehensively while making it more understandable for visitors. The new interactive experience will be designed and developed to ‘accompany’ visitors through the museum collection via narrative paths, clarifying the logical elements of connection that cannot be immediately inferred from the instruments on display.

Visits to the museum will be made interactive through augmented and virtual reality experiences developed by a research group in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the Politecnico di Milano.

In particular, with the augmented reality experience, it will be possible to transmit new content starting from the instruments present at the MusAB, which will be indicated and highlighted through specific narrative paths. At the same time, virtual reality will be used to allow more visitors to visit the Schiaparelli Cupola and understand Schiaparelli’s activities and studies. Indeed, the Schiaparelli Cupola is difficult to access and has a very limited capacity for safety reasons.

The MeccPolimi research group is led by Marina Carulli, with the participation of Monica Bordegoni and Giandomenico Caruso.