ONLINE FUN: Exciting plans revealed for Tamworth Castle to become more ‘virtually’ accessible
Image: Tamworth Castle
Further exciting plans are progressing at Tamworth Castle including the creation of a new augmented reality trail and digitalisation of the museum collection, thanks to the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund to help protect the future of the nation’s creative and cultural organisations.
Successful tenders for the projects were awarded to companies This Great Adventure and Drakon Heritage and Conservation. They are working on three main elements which include an app-based augmented reality trail within the castle, a remote educational programme for schools (KS1 – KS4) and a process to digitise the museum collection for public access online.
Drakon Heritage have started the process to digitise the collection, which has more than 40,000 of the castle’s collection pieces. Currently only 10% of these items are on public display, so the idea is to set up a catalogue to showcase pieces that will highlight Tamworth’s rich heritage and Anglo-Saxon history, making it available to everyone. These items will vary in size, age and theme, and will be listed with images and facts about the pieces and their background.
The museum collection archive will have its own website page and will be available to view for free. At first a few selected pieces will be listed and the additional items will be added over the next few months.
Jenni Butterworth from Drakon Heritage and Conservation, said: “Tamworth’s fascinating collections shed light not only on the history of the castle, but on the town and its past residents and businesses. We’re pleased to be part of this exciting project which will enable people to go ‘behind-the-scenes’ and virtually explore the objects that tell Tamworth’s story so vividly.”
This Great Adventure are currently developing the augmented reality trail, working closely with developers at Discover Studios and film maker Naresh Kaushal. The reality trail will run throughout the castle where visitors will be able to download an app and scan markers placed in different locations. Each marker will launch an augmented reality experience – for example, a 3D object or a character - ‘bringing to life’ some historical information and facts about the furniture and objects on display or past occupants of the castle.
These augmented reality experiences will also be available to view remotely in the Discovery Hub on the ground floor. This will make the whole of the castle ‘virtually’ accessible for everyone.
The third part of the digital project is the remote learning programme for pupils in KS1 –KS4. This Great Adventure, with educator Simon White, are looking to adapt the current castle education package to make it available online for schools to access and deliver remotely. This will provide teachers and pupils with an additional option to learn via a programme that will follow school history curriculum topics. This means schools from all over the country, and even the world, will be able to learn about Tamworth Castle.
Peter Gardom, Director of This Great Adventure, said, “Interactive and immersive media are changing the way we share stories – onsite, online and in the classroom. We’re delighted to be delivering this ambitious project with a truly multi-disciplinary team of experts from heritage, digital, media and education.”
The pandemic has magnified the need for Tamworth Castle, as the town’s sole museum and main cultural venue, to modernise the way services are provided to the community, visitors and schools.
A total of £250,000 has been awarded to Tamworth Castle thanks to the successful bid for investment as part of the second round of the Culture Recovery Fund grants, administered by Arts Council England.
The award was announced last year and confirmed that the money would help improve sustainability of the castle by developing a new digital audience.
Cllr Jeremy Oates, Tamworth Borough Council’s Cabinet member for heritage and growth, said: “Our big plans for Tamworth Castle are starting to take shape as we work on developing it even further as a major tourist attraction for the town and celebrate our rich heritage.
“In Tamworth, the pandemic meant immediately cutting back on our offering at the castle and we’ve had to make some difficult short term decisions to get us through the past 12 months.
“Significant challenges still remain though and we are focusing all our efforts on how we adapt and develop our heritage and cultural offering to ensure we can protect this important Tamworth asset for the longer term.
“The digitalised plans are near completion and we hope to launch them in spring this year.
“This funding from the Government will help ensure the castle experience meets the expectations of modern audiences and fully explore commercial opportunities to make the ancient building as resilient to future challenges as possible. It will enable us to reach a wider audience and even showcase worldwide what the castle has to offer.”
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