What was it like to be in London during the Great Fire? A museum is using Minecraft to find out

The Museum of London has contracted professional Minecraft world-builders Blockworks and Dragnoz to produce a series of maps that digitally re-create the Great Fire of London, giving visitors a new perspective on the 1666 conflagration that destroyed much of medieval London.

The Museum’s upcoming “Fire! Fire!” exhibit will feature a number of interactive installations that walk attendees through the events leading up to the disaster. A collection of free afternoon lectures, workshops, and family activities will offer a glimpse at what life was like in 17th-century London.

The Great Fire of London rapidly swept through the city over the course of four days in 1666, leveling thousands of homes and destroying St Paul’s Cathedral. It’s estimated that 70,000 of the city’s 80,000 citizens were left homeless by the disaster, leading to major social and economic upheaval in the aftermath.

Minecraft is ideal ground to simulate the widespread damage caused by fire, as the game’s fire propagation mechanics have consumed countless custom-built worlds since its initial public release. One especially popular YouTube video recorded during Minecraft‘s alpha stages of development demonstrates how fire spawned from lava can quickly devastate flammable structures.

Minecraft is an incredible game that captivates and inspires users of all ages around the world,” Fire! Fire! project lead Joshua Blair told Wired. “Its reach and versatility offers museums a fantastic platform to share our knowledge and collections, and create engaging experiences.”

Blair continued: “The Great Fire of London is one of the most popular topics within our learning program, which currently reaches about 130,000 schoolchildren each year, and we hope that Great Fire 1666 will create a fun learning experience that can engage every young person in this fascinating story.”

The Museum of London’s three commissioned Minecraft maps will be showcased at the Fire! Fire! exhibit from July 23, 2016, through April 17, 2017. The first map will be available as a free download from the Museum of London’s website on July 29, and additional map releases are slated for September of 2016, and February of 2017.

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