Innovative Historic House Interpretation

In early October I attended the Museums Association 2011 Conference and Exhibition in Brighton, where one of the main themes was making the most of professional networks and working in partnership.

One of the highlights of the Conference was the Innovative Historic House Interpretation session (Tuesday 4th October). Ruth Gill, Head of Interpretation at Historic Royal Palaces (HRP), outlined the HRP audience segmentation model, which now informs all their interpretation projects. So the Enchanted Palace experience at Kensington Palace was aimed at the ‘Cool Rejector’ segment, who are apparently “too cool” to visit, while the current work on the Georgian Kitchens at Kew Palace (due to open in Spring 2012) targets the keen ‘Time Travellers’.

Keith Robinson, Learning and Visitor Experience Consultant at the National Trust talked about how National Trust properties have been working on transforming the visitor experience by drawing out interesting personal stories, asking sometimes difficult questions and allowing visitors to touch objects (you can try your hand at the piano or play snooker in 1930s Upton House for instance).

Finally, Janita Bagshawe, Head of Royal Pavilion, Brighton, made the case for injecting a bit of controversy back into historic buildings like the Royal Pavilion. Last year artist Clare Twomey planted 3,000 black ceramic butterflies in the Royal Pavilion’s Banqueting Room, Great Kitchen and other rooms as part of a contemporary craft installation supported by the Museumaker programme. Visitors seemed to either love it or hate it – have a look at the photos and see what you think.

I share my notes from the session (which hopefully make some sense!) in the hope that you will find some inspiration in these examples. Innovative Historic House Interpretation


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