Augmented reality exhibit comes to Union Mills Homestead

A new augmented reality exhibition has been on display at the Union Mills Homestead for about a week, with chances for visitors to see what Union Mills was like from the late 1700s through the Industrial Revolution.

The exhibition — put on as a collaboration between the homestead, Carroll County Public Library and Balti Virtual — tells the story of Union Mills’ early industrial history and focuses on the grist mill and the tannery. Sam Riley, president of the Union Mills Homestead Board of Governors, said the history is one that doesn’t get enough attention.


“You know people love grist mills because they’re big and exciting to see,” he said this week, “but forget that the tanning of hides — turning hides into leather — was a very important early industry as well.

“Many people think of Carroll County as such a rural area,” said Riley, “but I forget there’s quite a bit of early industry in the area.”

Volunteer at the Union Mills Homestead, Don Lindsay, tries out the new Virtual Reality Exhibit at the Homestead.
Volunteer at the Union Mills Homestead, Don Lindsay, tries out the new Virtual Reality Exhibit at the Homestead. (Ken Koons/Carroll County Times)

The multimedia display includes three-dimensional artifacts, photographs and texts, and an augmented reality portion that visitors can use on available tablets. When the application is opened and the camera is directed at the two-dimensional photographs and images, animation begins.

And, Riley said, the application to experience the augmented reality portion of the exhibit is available in the Apple App and Google Play stores through the Carroll County Public Library.

“It’s amazing how every generation we get further and further away from the 18th and 19th century, how much less people know about this important history,” Riley said. “We’re very excited to have this technology allow us to bring this complex story to life in a way that people can understand.

“It’s an important history that basically informs so much of what we do today,” he said. “If you look at how a loaf of bread ends up on your plate today, it really isn’t any different than what it was in 1795, 1797. Other than that, we have a little bit fancier improvement of the same technology and a lot more government regulatory involvement.”

The exhibition went up on July 7 and will continue through Aug. 12.