A 3D interaction environment for literary societies

 (opens enlarged image)Image: TFA
3D replica of Villa Quandt, home of the Theodor Fontane Archive, created in Blender.

The »Theodor Fontane Gesellschaft e.V.« and the Theodor Fontane Archive at the University of Potsdam are developing a 3D interaction environment for literary societies in the joint cooperation project FontaneVR. Thanks to a grant from the »Kulturstiftung des Bundes« (Federal Cultural Foundation) from the program dive in. Program for Digital Interactions, a prototype of a digital 3D exhibition and interaction environment can be implemented. For this purpose, a meeting place base on virtual reality is being designed that is modeled after the actual representational spaces of Villa Quandt, the home of the Theodor Fontane Archive. Here, digital mediation formats (literary and educational events) as well as interactive exhibition formats will be tested, which are aimed at a diverse audience and can be visited individually or as a group.


Initial prototypical 3D designs of the Villa Quandt premises were created at the Theodor Fontane Archive in the summer of 2021 to test the feasibility of the project.

In the finished application, exhibitions are shown, guided tours are conducted and lectures are held. Via the SocialVR tool Mozilla Hubs, the virtual rooms created with the open source software Blender can be entered via any web browser. The virtual exhibition space and the exhibits can be explored together with other visitors.


Three exhibition and interaction formats will be explored:

The literary exhibition: Various exhibitions will be devised for the virtual spaces, which will make it possible to experience the materiality of the Fontane estate (e.g., manuscript digitizations), to discover Fontane's topicality (e.g., through panels on gender roles in Fontane's works), or to learn about the history of the Fontane Society and the archive. The exhibitions can be visited by interested users at any time; in addition, guided tours through the exhibition are offered by professional guides.

The literary event: Discursive forms of conveying literature and history are offered in the form of lectures, readings or discussions, for which interested people can gather in the virtual meeting place without being tied to a specific location.

Key data on the project

Duration: January 2022-December 2022

Project participants: »Theodor Fontane Gesellschaft e.V.«, Theodor Fontane Archive of the University of Potsdam

Press release on the start of the project

FontaneVR is being developed as part of dive in. Programm für digitale Interaktion of the German Federal Cultural Foundation, funded by the »Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien« in the NEUSTART KULTUR program.


The literary game: Especially - but by no means only - for the younger generation (such as schoolchildren), the virtual meeting place is transformed into a playground in which search and exploration games revolving around Fontane's literary works and handwritten estate can be played. In a media room, for example, a playful exhibition on Fontane and artificial intelligence (AI) is shown. Using the software DALL-E, the beginnings of Fontane's novels have each been translated into four artificially generated image worlds, which can be used to guess which Fontane novels are depicted.

Video: Tour of FontaneVR

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The Theodor Fontane Archive will operate the prototypes developed in the project on a long-term basis and incorporate them into its cultural education offerings. The Fontane Society will also ensure that the project becomes known to potential imitators - other literary societies or memorial sites. Finally, all developments and content will be published under Creative Commons licenses (CC-BY-SA) and made available for subsequent use.

Further reading

Vanessa Brandes, Anna Busch, Peer Trilcke, Ronny Zimmermann: Open Archives VR. Ein 3D-Modell des Theodor-Fontane-Archivs als interaktiver Erlebnis- und Kommunikationsraum, in: Book of Abstracts zur DHd2023 Luxemburg & Trier - Open Humanities, Open Culture, 2023.

Vanessa Brandes, Anna Busch, Peer Trilcke, Ronny Zimmermann: FontaneVR: Ein Kooperationsprojekt der Theodor Fontane Gesellschaft e.V. und des Theodor-Fontane-Archivs der Universität Potsdam, in: ALG-Umschau der Arbeitsgemeinschaft Literarischer Gesellschaften und Gedenkstätten e. V., No. 68, March 2023.

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