Building Hadrian’s Wall

Back in 2008 we were involved in developing an interactive virtual Hadrian’s Wall for the Great North Museum, an exhibit that allows visitors to create a digital brick to place within the wall. Since Hadrian’s Wall is six metres high in places and over 112km long, that’s a lot of bricks.

Hadrian Wall Projection In-Situ





When Phil made a follow-up visit recently he felt it was high time he made his own mark, placing the 178,362nd stone in the wall. This stone sits 14.2km along the wall, some impressive progress in terms of visitor engagement but still a long way to go to cross the breadth of the country.

Hadrian Wall Touch Screen In-Situ

Building data into the audience experience

Data capture

As interactive exhibit software specialists we are well experienced in using client data to create exhibits and using data collected from exhibit use to inform clients’ future decisions. Both are important aspects of developing an effective interactive exhibit.

Where the use of data collection and display becomes even more interesting is when it is part of the experience of using the exhibit, adding a further level of interaction for the visitor.

Building a digital wall 

At the Great North Museum, visitors can participate in the creation of an exhibit – a digital version of Hadrian’s Wall. Using an interactive screen they can “carve” their initials and the place they have come from onto a virtual stone which gets placed into the projected wall. On further visits they can seek out their brick and see how much further the wall has developed since that brick was first placed.

Compiling a personal interpretation of exhibits 

The Intelligence Centre exhibit at Manchester Art Gallery holds no pre-determined interpretive content. Instead it uses a question and answer technique to enable visitors build a structured personal response to artworks themed on conflict and resolution as well as using collected data to collate trends in responses.

Generating your own results 

At Whitehill and Bordon Eco-town’s Eco-station visitors’ own efforts generate the results that are displayed as their activity on an eco-generator bike displays how much hard work it takes to provide energy for everyday requirements such as powering a TV, making eco issues directly relevant to their daily lives.

User-generated data is a great way to ensure that an interactive exhibit becomes directly relevant to each visitor’s experience and helps to keep the exhibit fresh and stimulating over time.

New project win: Shrewsbury Flax Mill Maltings

Shrewsbury Flax Mill Maltings

Shrewsbury Flax Mill Maltings is the first iron framed building ever constructed, an internationally important industrial heritage site that is being developed for mixed use with Historic England having secured funding of £2.6m including £1,169,226 from the European Regional Development Fund. The project is being led by Historic England in partnership with the Friends of the Flaxmill Maltings and Shropshire Council.

Part of the development will be the conversion of the office and stables for use by the Friends of the Flaxmill Maltings for cultural and heritage interpretation and we will be working with The Workhaus bring the site’s history back to life.

Projected video and ambient audio will set the scene, audio of oral histories will describe life and events on the site, and an interactive touchscreen with a database of text and images will give visitors to the chance select, pan and zoom individual graphics and provide alternative access to displays from the first floor.

ERDF logo

Welcome to Cheyanne

We’re delighted to welcome to the team Cheyanne Black who joins us as an intern having recently graduated as a mature student in graphic design from the University of Derby.

Cheyanne Black

Since Chris gives guest lectures at the University, he was in contact with Cheyanne’s tutor who introduced the two as he knew that Wide Sky’s portfolio would be a perfect example to research for her final project, an interactive experience in digital and print formats called Commemoration through Conversation which brings people together to share their stories of war, conflict and human loss. With elements of archiving and education, the project is very much in line with the aims of many of our clients so it made perfect sense to keep in touch throughout the last months of her degree.

We’re very impressed with Cheyanne’s achievements which include being shortlisted for the prestigious Penguin Random House Design Award for her cover of Carrie’s War and for the 5th Sheffield International Artists Book Prize for Tear Away The Taboo, a handcrafted direct mailer and leaflet insert inviting the public to an event to discuss taboos in today’s society.

Cheyanne’s ability to work with interpretation, archiving and education around themes of war and conflict are informed by time she spent prior to her studies as an army nurse in Hawaii where she was struck by the poignancy of survivors of the Pearl Harbour attack visiting the USS Arizona Memorial, possibly the last that these visitors, now in their 90s, will make. This sensitivity is clearly reflected in her work.

We’re so pleased to have such a talent on the team and have been keeping Cheyanne very busy with modelling, animation and graphic layout for a project interpreting the history of the 13th century church at Bedwas. She is certainly rising to new challenges and we look forward to presenting her with even more!

The London Bridge Experience wins at ScareCON

More congratulations, this time for our client, The London Bridge Experience whose London Tombs has won the 2015 Best Year Round Scare Attraction at this year’s ScareCON event, Europe’s only show dedicated to the growing scare attraction industry.

London Bridge Scare Attracttion

Congratulations on another well-deserved win.

We worked with The London Bridge Experience to install a photosystem which, as well as generating revenue for the attraction, is also an integral part of the visitor experience.

Conservation award for St Martin’s Church, Bilborough

It’s turning into a month of celebrations for Wide Sky Design’s clients. First we hear about Woodhall Spa’s success in the East Midlands Heritage Awards and now there is more to celebrate as St Martin’s Church win the John Betjeman Award for the sensitive restoration of the unique Evelyn Gibbs murals as part of their Hidden Treasures project. The award is given by SPAB (the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings) to celebrate excellence in the conservation and repair of places of worship of any faith.

The judges visited on 28th May and commented that “the project had resulted in a space of beauty and serenity but had clearly been a catalyst for wider benefits”, which exemplifies the aims of the Hidden Treasures project.

Evelyn Gibbs mural restored St Martins

The murals depict the Annunciation, the moment the Angel Gabriel tells Mary that she is going to have God’s son. They were completed in 1946 by Evelyn Gibbs, one of the few women war artists, and are believed to be the only surviving examples of her large scale painting. In 1972 the paintings were lost to view when an unsympathetic, modern extension was added to the church and later believed destroyed. They were rediscovered in 2009 when electricians were working in the ceiling. Photographs were taken and shared with English Heritage who got very excited about the find and recommended a conservation report be carried out.

An anonymous donation of £1,000 sparked interest in the possibility of the restoration project and Heritage Lottery funding made it a reality. As well as the paintings, the church has seen repairs and restoration to a blocked up east window and Victorian barrel-vault ceiling, the installation of underfloor heating and a new stone floor laid.

Judges also noted the “commitment to community involvement and education embedded in the project” which is where Wide Sky Design have been delighted to play a part by capturing the restoration works using time lapse photography and developing a tablet tour to help visitors explore significant points around the church and a “pop-up” lectern to take the story of the church out to the wider community.

St Martin’s Church, Bilborough Case Study

Introducing our tablet tour

A tablet tour is a practical way to ensure that visitors can control their own experience of your historic site, museum or gallery at their own pace in a personalised way.

We’ve talked about the benefits of this approach from the client’s point of view when we discussed the tablet tour in comparison to using a Bring Your Own Device approach but what do the visitors think? With help from a team of local students, we’ve put together a video of visitors to St Martin’s Church in Bilborough who talk about how they found the experience of using a tablet tour to explore the church.

Ease of use and accessibility are important to them, as is the fact that it is fun and enhances their visit – exactly what we aim for.

Read how the tablet tour is being used by St Martin’s Church and The Master’s House at Ledbury.

Congratulations to Woodhall Spa Cottage Museum

We’re thrilled for the team at Woodhall Spa Cottage Museum, who this month won the award for Customer Care at the second East Midlands Heritage Awards which recognise excellence and innovation at museums across the region.

The award was judged by a team of Mystery Visitors who reported that the Cottage Museum provides a welcoming environment, with staff on hand to help and inform visitors.  They observed that the displays are well presented and labelled and a hands on approach is encouraged, allowing the visitor every opportunity to have a really enjoyable experience.

The Cottage Museum was also shortlisted for the Award for Engaging Children and Young People for its Young Person’s Museum Guide and the Wendy Golland Award for Quality Research for its research into the history of The Petwood Gardens.

Museum Chairman, Gill Noble, accepted the Customer Care Award from East Midlands Today presenter, John Homes.

Woodhall Spa East Midlands Heritage Award

The awards were part of the East Midlands Heritage Conference 2015, held at Nottingham Conference Centre on 9th June and saw a total of 61 entries from 38 different organisations. The event was organised by three key organisations: East Midlands Museums Service, Museum Development East Midlands and Nottingham Trent University, assisted by Culture Syndicates CIC and Anita Hollinshead and generously supported by Barker Langham and David Weight Design & Artwork.

Working with museum and heritage designers, Querceus, Wide Sky Design created two interactive exhibits for the Cottage Museum as part of its refurbishment project, enabling visitors to explore the photographic archives and are arranged to reflect the two major collections covering Woodhall Life and World War II.

Maintenance at the Military Intelligence Museum

We have had a terrific working relationship with the Military Intelligence Museum in Bedfordshire for ten years now. As well as continuing to create new interactive exhibits for them, such as the First World War exhibit opened last year, we continue to support older exhibits which, over ten years or so, inevitably experience a little wear and tear.

We have recently been working with them evaluating the condition of these exhibits, identifying and necessary repairs, making recommendations to prolong their life further, and putting this all into action.

Military Intelligence Museum Honours and awards

Honours and Awards commemorates individually those members of the Corps who have been decorated or otherwise honoured in recognition of their gallantry or service. It is a perpetual record of all such decorations made to members of the Corps since its formation in July 1940 and ongoing into the future.

Military Intelligence Museum In the Name of the Rose

In the Name of the Rose is an interactive version of a book written to commemorate active service casualties. Completed in 2007, this Roll of Honour is now a central feature of the Museum and enables the user to access increasingly detailed levels of information on each casualty.

Military Intelligence Museum BRIXMIS

The BRIXMIS exhibit tells the story of the British Commander-in-Chief’s Mission to the Soviet Forces in Germany, how it was organised and equipped and how it operated.

Military Intelligence Museum Special Operations Executive

The Special Operations Executive interactive exhibit uses just one scene to cover the entire range of activity of the Special Operations Executive. You can read more detail in our case study’.

New Project: Bowlees Visitor Centre

Chris Woodley-Stewart, Director of the North Pennines AONB Partnership which runs Bowlees Visitor Centre, at Middleton, Teesdale, had seen the project that we worked on at Sutton Bank which uses RFID tags to create an interactive experience around key themes. This sparked some ideas of his own.

Chris and the North Pennines AONB Partnership team were looking for a flexible interactive exhibit that would provide interpretation about the geodiversity and special qualities of the AONB, the ways in which the landscaped has been shaped and managed over time  and how it is looked after today. The North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is also a European and Global Geopark. The exhibit will also support presentations that are made in the Visitor Centre.

Our concept presents a unit with cubby holes which will contain objects with RFID tags hidden within them. These tags use radio-frequency electromagnetic fields to transfer data from the ‘tagged’ object to a computer and allow the visitor to view content relevant to the object on a screen. It is an ideal way to let users get “hands on” to discover more about a theme through the aspects that catch their interest the most.

Bowlees RFID interactive concept

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