Technology to offer visitors ‘immersive’ National Trust experience

Chedworth Roman Villa in Gloucestershire

Chedworth Roman Villa in Gloucestershire

How can the sights and sounds of history be brought alive for modern visitors to National Trust properties’ Cutting edge technology could provide an answer, so the conservation charity will work with University experts to create new multi-sensory experiences at some of its places in the South West and Wales.

The work is part of a new wide-ranging regional partnership between the National Trust and GW4 - an Alliance of top research-intensive and innovative universities; Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter.

GW4’s lead on the National Trust partnership Professor Tim Cole , of the University of Bristol, said: “We’re interested in how we can use new digital technologies to evoke the history of a place.

“What did a place sound like? What did it feel like? We want to try to bring it alive for the modern visitor; to use technology to offer an immersive visitor experience at National Trust sites.”

A similar previous project in Gloucestershire saw the full-size digital recreation of 17th Century gardens at Dyrham Park and rooms in a Roman site at Chedworth Roman Villa.

The use of digital and creative expertise to connect audiences with heritage is just one of five different themes identified for the ambitious partnership.

The other four themes are colonial legacies; climate resilience; mental health, wellbeing and landscape; and landscape decisions and management.

Dr Rupert Goulding, the National Trust’s lead curator for the South West Region, said one of the core aims of the collaboration with GW4 was to develop research bids around the five themes.

“This partnership will bring in academic expertise, new thoughts and ideas, as well as informing the work that we’re doing and take us in new directions,” he said.

“GW4 and the National Trust are a great match and we’ll bring together complementary expertise and skills that will lead to exciting projects.”

The announcement comes as the GW4 Alliance celebrates five years of collaborative world-class research and innovation. Collaborative interdisciplinary research is at the heart of GW4 and to date GW4 has invested more than 2.8m in 87 collaborative research communities, generating 37m in research income.

The regional partnership, covering multiple universities across the South West and Wales, is the first of its kind for the National Trust and builds upon previous strategic investment from GW4.

Director of GW4, Dr Sarah Perkins said: “GW4 is delighted to be partnering with the National Trust. It reflects our vision to develop strong partnerships at scale, especially as we celebrate our fifth anniversary.

“By working together in an interdisciplinary way and building on our region’s strengths and academic excellence we can help to tackle these complex social and global challenges. For example, our region has a strong history of creative innovation and the Great West is home to more climate expertise than any other area worldwide.”


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