New project win: University of Essex

The University of Essex has appointed Wide Sky Design to develop an interactive system that will acknowledge sponsors and donors to the university. It will be situated in the reception of the Silberrad Student Centre where it will make an impact on visitors.UOE Reception

The interactive will recognise supporters of both historic and ongoing activities and initiatives including scholarships, research, infrastructure, Chancellor’s appeals and The Essex Experience, projects which enhance the student experience.

It will be developed around our content management system which means it will be fully updateable by the client.

Our Content Management System

Flexibility, ease of use, and the ability to enhance the visitor experience are all reasons why clients are increasingly choosing to use our content management system to power their interactive exhibits.

Wide Sky Design content management system

The system is designed to give clients full control over the content of their exhibits now and in the future. This enables them to keep their exhibits fresh, to change content to fit chosen themes, and to give visitors new experiences.

From the visitor’s perspective, it creates an enjoyable experience, adding variety and new material over time. It also helps to ensure the accessibility of the experience with the use of dynamic media allowing the user to pan and zoom over text and images to set the size that is comfortable for them to use.

Tablet Content Zoom In

Tablet Content Zoom OutThe content management system can be used to feed multiple exhibits and works across all platforms including mobile devices and PC-based exhibits.

Tablets Large 001_002

It is easy for client staff to use and, of course, we offer full training to ensure that clients can get the best benefits from the system.

Training on tablet tour content management system

Training on content management systemHilary Wheat, champion of a lottery funded project at St Martin’s Church, Bilborough, told us why their tablet tour, which uses our content management system, has proved to be a successful choice.

“The tablets that we use to provide a tour of the church are a real asset. They are tremendously popular with children and, because they are mobile, can be used at any visitor’s own pace as they wander round the church or sit to use them which is good for elderly visitors and those with disabilities. We really didn’t want to clutter the walls of the building with boards and panels so the digital alternative is ideal.

“A real bonus is our ability to update the content. Because the tablet tour is part of a larger, ongoing project to research the history of the church, the surrounding area and the lives of local people we are constantly uncovering new material and information, correcting historical anecdotal details, and finding new ways to add to the richness of the visitor experience. The content management system is the ideal way to do this without the additional cost that we would incur if we had used printed exhibits.

“Our team have been trained in using the system and find it straightforward and easy to use. My top tip for using it is to keep your hand in! Not only does that make sure you remain familiar with how it works, it also means you get the full benefit of it in enhancing your exhibits.”

A further benefit for both the client and us is that the content management system helps keep the project development process moving smoothly. We can develop the project at the same time as the client develops the necessary content – it is all brought together in the content management system at the end of the project. This means that we are not reliant on all the content being in place before we can start work which means the project gets off to a flying start and keeps momentum throughout.

New project win: Wardown Park Museum

Luton’s Wardown Park Museum has been awarded £1.8million from the Heritage Lottery Fund to conserve the building and transform the way its story is told.

Wardown Park Museum

The work will open up new areas of the building – originally designed as a private residence – and will give visitors an insight into life above and below stairs in a wealthy family home during the Victorian period.

The project lends itself perfectly to a tablet tour, an approach that we are finding is increasingly popular with clients and we’re looking forward to helping bring the history of the museum building and its exhibits to life.

Read more how other clients have used our tablet tours…

The Master’s House, Ledbury

St Martin’s Church, Bilborough


New Project Win: Amersham Museum

We’re pleased to be part of the team that will be reimagining Amersham Museum, an independent museum in a listed mediaeval building which is now developing into a larger, more accessible museum.


It’s great to be collaborating again with Querceus who are currently working on the design for this new project. We’re looking forward to becoming further involved as it progresses as this is another project where we can use technology creatively to make the most of an interesting historical space.

The creative ideas are looking really exciting and we’ll keep you up-to-date with developments that will be interpreting the development of Amersham as a market town, the history of its transport from coaching inns to the railway, its history of protest and dissent, local industry, and housing and domestic life in the town.

Heritage Lottery Fund logo

Upgrades at Glen Finglas

In 2014 we developed and installed a multi-touch screen at the Woodland Trust’s new visitor centre at Glen Finglas in the Trossachs National Park.

Glenfinglas touchscreen exhibit map

The screen features a map of the park and we have just upgraded the software to include 360 degree panoramic photography for twelve points on the map that offer particularly stunning views.

The photography features each location in summer, autumn and winter so that visitors can immerse themselves in the landscape, experiencing it as if they were there, at any time of year they choose.

Glenfinglas winter

Glenfinglas spring

Turnkey solutions for your interactive exhibits

Increasingly, we are being asked to provide an integrated turnkey service for clients that includes hardware specification, software design, producing audio visual and film content, and installation on site. It’s a service that means your interactive exhibits will be ready to go with no hassle.

There are a number of advantages to a turnkey service:

  • Single point of contact: you can reduce the overhead and communication challenges of managing multiple contractors.
  • Economy of scale: you can achieve a cost benefit through shared meetings and overheads.
  • Integrated systems: by developing all aspects of the project side by side we can deliver the most efficient, effective and robust solutions.
  • Content management: one easy-to-use content management system can serve multiple exhibits and be added to and updated to suit your needs.
  • Longevity: a single source warranty and maintenance service for all components of the project makes ongoing maintenance and support more streamlined and easy to manage.

Read more about project that we have provided a turnkey solution for:

Shakespeare’s Schoolroom and Guildhall

Heritage Quay

The Cutty Sark

Caerphilly Castle

Wardown Park Museum

York Castle

Amersham Museum


Fire Aware for Moors for the Future

Heritage Lottery Fund applications

Heritage Lottery Fund applicationMany of the projects that we work on are supported by Heritage Lottery Funding and often we are involved at the earliest stages to help put together a persuasive application with specifications for both hardware and software that will help to make any project a success.

In its guidance the Heritage Lottery Fund states, “In assessing applications, we take account of outcomes for heritage, people and communities that projects will achieve” and we believe that including specialists in hardware and software in the team at application stage can help to meet those outcomes.

Typically, our role would include developing a design document which specifies:

  • All the interactive exhibits,
  • Their locations within a site and any constraints that these might impose,
  • The necessary hardware taking into account any particular needs determined by the nature of the location such as robustness, being water resistant or any M&E constraints,
  • Full costings.

Detailed specifications will meet the varied requirements of a project including:

  • Being sympathetic to the creative and general design approach of the exhibition.
  • Meeting specific educational and interpretive objectives and testing against them throughout the design process to ensure that they are educationally sound and will remain relevant for future visitors.
  • Being designed in accordance with accessibility guidelines and with DDA compliance as well as with general accessibility for the widest possible audience in mind.
  • Being designed for robustness and longevity using commercially proven delivery platforms wherever possible to mitigate the risk of equipment failure and reduce maintenance costs.

By working closely with a team of architects, lighting specialists, exhibition designers, interpreters and curatorial staff we can comprehensively specify complete systems that can be installed and implemented on a turnkey basis. This thorough approach means that, not only does the client have a robust funding application, the end result for their project is one that will meet all their objectives from both interpretive and practical perspectives.

Award success for Heritage Quay

We’re thrilled to hear that our friends at Heritage Quay are celebrating winning the Buildings that Inspire category in this year’s Guardian Higher Education Awards.

Heritage Quay Buildings that Inspire

Heritage Quay houses University of Huddersfield’s Archives and Special Collections, made up of around 120 separate collections reflecting the history of Huddersfield and the surrounding area and are of local, national and international significance. We were involved in the project, developing an interactive Gesture Wall which provides and immersive experience for a wide range of visitors, as well as multi-touch tables which allow deeper exploration of archive themes.

The award recognises Heritage Quay as an interdisciplinary space that engages visitors from the under 5s to the over 90s through exhibitions and events, as well as providing learning, teaching and social space for students and staff at the University.

Sarah Wickham, University Archivist and Records Manager, said,

“Wide Sky were a key partner in shaping and delivering our inspiring building.  Their multimedia design has been crucial to underpinning what we can do in the facility – thank you team!”

It was a terrific project to be involved with and it has been great to see Heritage Quay going from strength to strength since opening in 2014. Congratulations on this well-deserved award.

The Daniel Adamson – interpretation in a working vessel

We’re enjoying the challenge of using technology to interpret the history of this unique and historic vessel, one of only two surviving tug tenders in the UK and the only surviving steam powered tug tender. Working with Querceus Design and The Workhaus we’ve come up with some creative ways to make the very most of this unusual space.

Daniel Adamson in dry dock

As a working vessel it presents a number of health and safety issues and its size and shape mean that there is limited opportunity to use traditional interpretation methods.

Daniel Adamson health and safety

With the restoration of a stunning art deco lounge being part of the project, there have also been limitations on how much fixed technology we can use.

Daniel Adamson lounge restoration

We’ve found the answer to these challenges in the use of mobile tablets and integrating atmospheric exhibits into the infrastructure. These include evocative audio and recreating the ghost of a barman in the lounge who will relate stories from the Daniel Adamson’s varied history.

An unusual space can present challenges but it also provides interesting opportunities to work with the space creatively to develop approaches to interpretation that are very personal to the location.

On a practical note, we have chosen hardware that will stand up to the rigours of a marine environment in the form of IP rated marine grade screens that will cope with the inevitable demands of high moisture levels and wide-ranging temperatures.

It’s good to see the Daniel Adamson out of dry dock now and back into its normal working life.

Clevedon Pier – atmospheric and immersive experiences

This Victorian pier was described by Sir John Betjemen as “the most beautiful pier in England” and is the country’s only Grade I listed pier. We are working alongside Querceus Design and The Workhaus to provide an interpretation scheme for the Clevedon Pier and Heritage Trust.

Clevedon Pier

The overall interpretation will cover the history of the pier and the long-running campaign for its restoration, its place within the wider Clevedon area and role in making the town a holiday makers’ destination, and the ecology of the Severn estuary.

Our work will be focused on the new visitor centre in the Toll House at the near end of the pier where we will be maximising the available exhibition space using a combination of ambient soundscapes, audiovisual and themed interactives to give a feel of the life of the pier and surrounding area. An interactive exhibit will also show real time shipping information from the Bristol Channel.

Clevedon Pier Toll House

We will be using our database system to manage images from the history of the pier and creating a “Gesture Wall” to create an immersive experience from this archive material.

Visitors will also be able to get a sense of the great storm which had such an impact on the area as the storm is recreated within a small turret, once a spiral staircase, at the side of the Toll House.

Clevedon Pier tower

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