Hengistbury Head

Hengistbury Head Nature Reserve is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, owned and managed by Bournemouth Borough Council. The headland is tremendously popular, with around a million visitors every year but the visitor centre was past its prime. A new £1.35 million visitor centre, partly funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, was opened in summer 2013 with displays, study zones, videos, wildlife webcams, podcasts, trails, talks and walks.

Hengistbury Head interactive exhibit

Wide Sky Design have been part of the team that has developed interactive exhibits to interpret the development of the geology of the area, the ravages of natural and man-made erosion, and the efforts made to safeguard the landscape over the years.

With a limited budget available for the interactive exhibition, the task was to convey a great deal of complex information about over 60 million years of geological changes in a way that is easy to understand to any visitor.

Big screen animation

Hengistbury Head animation

We worked closely with subject matter experts – a professor of geology and an archaeologist – as well as an interpretation consultant and designer to animate 65 million years of the site’s geological development.

The strata, that are clearly visible on the site, reflect the changing conditions and climate. The shape of the coastline has changed over the millennia, with Hengistbury Head itself becoming a headland as the coast receded and river pattern changed. This is all depicted throughout the animation.

Touchscreen exhibit

Hengistbury Head Battle for Survival

A touchscreen exhibit illustrates Hengistbury Head’s “Battle for Survival” and the role it has played in protecting nearby Bournemouth, Christchurch and Highcliffe. Themed around the threats to the coastline and the natural and man-made defences, the exhibit makes the most of historical photography that record the changing face of the coastline over time.

Hengistbury Head sand traps

So far, the exhibition has been well received. The client will be conducting evaluations later in the year to assess the success and effectiveness of the different elements of the Visitor Centre.

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