February 28, 2012: The San Antonio Missions National Historical Park formally announces the launch of the San Antonio Missions Digital Portal
, a new way to virtually visit the National Historical Park in San Antonio, Texas in both English and Spanish. In addition to the web portal, you can explore the San Antonio Missions in an interactive, self-guided tour app. The app is available for both the iPhone
Today, the San Antonio Missions represent the largest collection of Spanish Colonial missions in the United States and are managed by the National Park Service. Located along the San Antonio River in Texas, the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park encompasses five Spanish Colonial sites: Mission Concepción, Mission Espada, Mission San José, Mission San Juan, and the Espada Aqueduct. Thanks to the continuous preservation efforts at the missions, they continue to serve as active parishes and play an important role in their communities.
In the spring of 2010, CyArk, a non-profit organization dedicated to digitally preserving cultural heritage sites around the world, and the National Park Service collaborated in a unique project to digitally preserve the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park and share them in an unprecedented way to the local community and general public. “This project offers the public and educators a new venue to explore the missions in interesting and unique ways. The park hopes to spark the imagination of youth across the country to explore our heritage in ways and techniques that are a natural fit for the digital age,” says Al Remley, Park Ranger for San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. This project was made possible through an important collaboration between the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, the National Park Service-Intermountain Region, Los Compadres de San Antonio Missions, Western National Parks Assocaition, and CyArk. The first phase of the Digital Preservation Project of the five sites included field documentation, during which laser scanning and photography were used to create a highly accurate digital record of the missions. This state-of-the-art capture technology resulted in highly detailed documentation with every brick and stone recorded at an accuracy of 5mm.
The digital information gathered during the field documentation phase was then used to create media for physical preservation work, education, and virtual tourism. All of the media created is showcased on CyArk’s website and is being used at San Antonio Missions National Historical Park for the continued preservation of the missions, as well as the creation of educational interactive learning tools and lessons for school-age children.
The web portal, created by CyArk, features an array of rich multimedia including interactive narrated virtual tours of the park, educational activities utilizing 3D models within a Google Earth Interface. In addition to content accessible online, the partners collaborated through an educational workshop to produce a collection of lesson plans available for download and use in the classroom. CyArk Director of Projects and Development, Elizabeth Lee, said: “CyArk is extremely proud of its partnership with the National Park Service-Intermountain Region, the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, and Los Compadres de San Antonio Missions in publicly disseminating this fantastic site showcasing the San Antonio Missions. We feel that this is a unique and unprecedented window into the Spanish colonial history in the United States. We are proud to have it within the CyArk archive and are incredibly grateful for our partners’ continuous support.”
The project partners would like to invite the public to explore the San Antonio Missions Digital Portal
or download the app
. Proceeds from the app will help support future projects at the Missions.