I forget who dropped me the link for this, but Last week I somewhat randomly got a teleport link from my buddy Draxtor Despres. I finally got a few minutes to check out the Afghanistan Museum in Second Life this evening, and was quite impressed. Located in the Four Bridges Project sim (teleport link), the museum was created for the Revolutionary Association of Women of Afghanistan (RAWA.) According to their website Rawa is "the oldest political/social organization of Afghan women struggling for peace, freedom, democracy and women's rights in fundamentalism-blighted Afghanistan since 1977."
The museum itself is not particularly political in its content, concentrating on the geography, culture, and society of Afghanistan, with some light political commentary sprinkled in. It would be a pleasant way for someone who knew very little about Afghanistan to find out the basics about this country, rather than hitting up Wikipedia or a travel guide.
The 3D geography map gives you a good idea of the terrain and major locales in the small Asian country.
Textiles and fabric are important parts of Afghani culture, as you can find out about in the carpet room and this armoire with depictions of various native dress.
Music and dance play important parts of life in Afghanistan. There are musical instruments on display that tell you about their uses when you click on them, as well as dancers that animate your avatar when you click on them. Sadly, I didn't hear any Afghani music while I was there, or videos showing live demonstrations of any of the traditional dances.
Food of course is a great entry point for introducing people to a culture, even in the virtual world. The simulation of various common Afghani dishes got me hungry. I want those kebabs! Tea also plays an important role in daily life.
On the roof is a door simply marked "Faith" transports you to this quite beautiful palace in the sky. I don't really know what it is depicting, but found it moving and evocative.
This was as good a place as any to end my visit to the Afghanistan Museum.
The museum is definitely worth a visit as an example of an educational build with various ways of introducing the visitor to the content. I liked that every room was full of objects and signs that you could interact with. I didn't see much use of music, narration or video, which would have been nice but perhaps too bandwidth intensive for some. On the other hand, there was a lot of reading involved, mostly put onto textures that I had to wait to load on my laptop. A notecard giver system would be less elegant, but perhaps easier for folks on slower connections and computers.
All-in-all, its quite an achievement to boil down the culture, history and society of an ancient nation into a few rooms in a virtual museum. Congrats to the builders on creating a rich and immersive introduction to Afghanistan.
Visit the museum yourself at this teleport link.