The National Trust's Hardwick Hall has installed Info-Point in its Long Gallery in order to provide a novel way to understand its collection of paintings and tapestries, while reducing the intrusiveness of interpretation. Presenting the portraits on visitors' smartphones so that they can be analysed as Elizabethan 'selfies' gives a new perspective that makes the imagery more accessible to younger visitors. Digital enhancement of the faded Gideon tapestries enables visitors to see them exactly as they would have looked to Bess of Hardwick in the 16th Century, and explains some of the challenges of conservation. Discreet NFC tags are also available as location triggers, enabling the techno-savvy to integrate their physical experience with their digital one. The Trust is monitoring and evaluating this project, along with outdoor Info-Points at Clumber Park, to see what the visitor reaction is to applying this 'new-renaissance' technology to heritage.
The challenge was a Grade II listed Victorian steam pumping station. Providing ambulatory accessibility to some key parts of this complex structure is just not practicable. The building is leased by the water company to a volunteer group, that work hard to maintain and improve it, and to open it part-time so that people can appreciate their industrial heritage.
As part of a major upgrade, the team wanted to improve the disabled visitor experience as much as possible. In addition to opening those parts of the site that they could, they installed an Info-Point ‘Intelligent Network’, plus six webcams, and some low-cost loan tablets.
Ryhope Trust Chairman, Keith Bell: "Using an Info-Point network and six live webcams, we are able to offer those with ambulatory disability a much more participative experience as they can follow their party around and share in the visit.”
“Our site is poorly served by phone signal and broadband, and only manned part-time, so Info-Point was the only solution that works for us. Users will normally use their own device, but if they don't have one, then we have some tablets available for loan when we are open ."
After a press launch and disabled access public open day, Keith wrote:
“Info-Point has been a universal success and has been robust enough to cope with a high number of users. Some had trouble logging on with smartphones, but the instruction cards allowed us to guide visitors and press to complete the login process if their browser was not opened automatically.”
“We have been open for disabled access days today and the tablets you provided have worked a treat, they have an impressive battery life and perform really well. I have been able to train our less that techno-savvy older volunteers how to use them.”
See a video of the opening day at:
Stoke Bruerne is a Canal and River Trust museum site in rural Northamptonshire. In order to open up some of its film and oral history archive to the public, and explain how locks work, they installed an Info-Point unit at the entrance to Blisworth tunnel, using an old stable to house a solar-powered unit.
A/V producer Peter Ralley commented, "The Canal and River Trust wanted to make full use of my filmed oral histories and archival footage, but the unattended tow-path environment is not suitable for digital equipment such as kiosks, and it has no power or internet access, so Info-Point was the only delivery mechanism that would work. I created animated explanations of how the locks and side-ponds worked and how they built Blisworth Tunnel and installed everything on a solar-powered Info-Point so that it can be used 24/7 from the public tow-path. As we have worked with Info-Point before we knew that it would do the job. Putting it all together was very easy and it works like a dream."
This restored palladian mansion has a rich archive of oral history recordings from both above and below stairs. Organised for navigation by theme, these are now available to visitors during their house tour via an Info-Point unit. Following this success, Basildon had the idea to add automated time-lapse webcam video of their conservators at work.
House and Collections Manager Donald Ramsay says, “Each visitor can simultaneously choose their own topic of interest from our archive and hear these voices from the past come alive on their own phone. Personal reminiscences of the owners, Lord and Lady Iliffe, are complemented by the memories of those who spent their working lives on the Estate.”
Conwy Council’s Green Links Trail needed to give visitors information outdoors, where there was no IT infrastructure and poor phone reception, but a cafe and an old toll booth with power available. Through their interpreters, Monty Funk, who authored the creative content, they developed audio trails and downloadable leaflets and use Info-Point to deliver them.
Project Officer Dan Romberg says, "At three Info-Point 'hot spots' we are able provide an audio trail offering an insight into the environmental, historical and recreational aspects of the on the coastal strip between Llandudno and Prestatyn, and the Marine Drive on the Great Orme."
The National Trust's Clumber Park is a major public park and wanted to provide interpretation of how it was changing and managing several outdoor environments. After seeing Info-Point at the Museum and Heritage show, and borrowing a loan unit to trial, they chose to use independent solar-powered Info-Point units at each of the three locations. Added to the interpretation content there is a flexible nature webcam that can be linked to any of the units to provide live images of interesting natural history that is otherwise not available.
Senior Warden Dan Booth comments: “ The fact that our staff can add and update the content themselves is attractive as these are evolving areas. We would like to use Info-Point in more areas in the future.”
The National Trust for Scotland were wrestling with the problem of how to provide interpretation of an archaeological site in a harsh outdoor environment on the lower slopes of Ben Lawers National Nature Reserve. Then an Info-Point leaflet arrived.
Info-Point’s Wi-Fi ‘local web’ proved to be the answer. Manager and Senior Ranger Naturalist Helen Cole says, “We wanted to provide interpretation of an archaeological site where there is no visitor infrastructure other than a layby on the road. Using Info-Point with solar power enables us to provide something that’s modern and interesting, but also durable in the Scottish outdoor climate.”
Swansea Council commissioned a dynamic modern video for Swansea Castle web site from Bright 3D, but lacked the means to show it to visitors at the castle, which is an open and unmanned site.
Bright 3D suggested to the client installing an info-Point unit, but there was still the issue of where to locate it, as it was important not to clutter the view, and to protect it, as the nightlife in Castle Square is described as 'lively'.
Following a site visit and test, the Info-Point was supplied in an All-Weather utility enclosure and this was installed in a pedestrian crossing, which provides both the power for the unit, and disguises it as it blends into the traffic lights. The location is perfect as the signal covers the Castle grounds and the public square. Can you spot it in the picture?