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Lottery cash to fund improved Ipswich Museum visitor experience

PUBLISHED: 11:30 12 February 2019 | UPDATED: 13:13 12 February 2019

Mobile phone apps will help add to the visitor experience in the future, Ipswich Museum bosses have said. Picture: IPSWICH BOROUGH COUNCIL

Mobile phone apps will help add to the visitor experience in the future, Ipswich Museum bosses have said. Picture: IPSWICH BOROUGH COUNCIL

Archant

It may be a place full of old, ancient relics but Ipswich Museum is reviewing how it engages with its visitors through the use of the very latest technology.

The museum said the digital technology would enhance, not replace, the face-to-face visitor experience. Picture: IPSWICH BOROUGH COUNCILThe museum said the digital technology would enhance, not replace, the face-to-face visitor experience. Picture: IPSWICH BOROUGH COUNCIL

Thousands of bones have been inventoried, hundreds of social history artefacts documented, archaelogical objects photographed and works on paper digitised.

The museum has been awarded £461,600 of Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) cash as part of an £8million refurbishment of the space.

As part of that development, Ipswich Museum manager James Steward said bosses were reviewing the ways in which people experienced the museum, with a greater use of technology just one of the ways being explored.

“It’s as much about digital innovation,” Mr Steward said.

Augmented reality and video projections are among the ideas proposed for Ipswich Museum Picture: IPSWICH BOROUGH COUNCILAugmented reality and video projections are among the ideas proposed for Ipswich Museum Picture: IPSWICH BOROUGH COUNCIL

“With the redevelopment how that will be for the future will be important.

“We are looking at augmented reality, apps, and how people use the museum.

“People are coming with more up to date information than they were traditionally and we need to recognise that as part of the visitor experience.

“What we don’t want is for that to be a replacement for the visitors – there is no replacement for experiencing that collection first hand.”

Ipswich Museum manager James Steward said it was important to be aware of ways in which people liked to experience the museum. Picture: MATT STOTTIpswich Museum manager James Steward said it was important to be aware of ways in which people liked to experience the museum. Picture: MATT STOTT

The museum has been working on a dedicated programme of digitally archiving material – a programme that had begun well before the HLF announcement – with those digital resources set to be used in any apps or VR technology in the future.

As well as being used for future access, the digital archive also aims to protect and preserve items, improve access for people through online searches and facilitate more requests for research projects.

In the six months to October last year alone, more than 3,500 items in the bonery were inventoried, 1,400 social history artefacts documented, 700 archaeology objects photographed and documented and 500 works on paper digitised.

Volunteers have been helping the museum carry out the work.

Izzy Keith has been overseeing the digitisiation of hundreds of artefacts, which will be used for future apps, video projections and VR experiences. Picture: SU ANDERSONIzzy Keith has been overseeing the digitisiation of hundreds of artefacts, which will be used for future apps, video projections and VR experiences. Picture: SU ANDERSON

Izzy Keith, who has been overseeing the collections care, said: “It’s going to allow us to make it much better and more accessible.

“We can facilitate more research requests, we will be looking at the strategy as a whole and use all this to engage with our audiences online.

“We don’t have a basic search online interface and we will be looking to introduce that and more interactive works too.”

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