Long Gallery interpretation at Hardwick Hall

The National Trust's Hardwick Hall has installed Info-Point in its Long Gallery in order to provide a novel way to understand its collection of paintings and tapestries, while reducing the intrusiveness of interpretation. Presenting the portraits on visitors' smartphones so that they can be analysed as Elizabethan 'selfies' gives a new perspective that makes the imagery more accessible to younger visitors. Digital enhancement of the faded Gideon tapestries enables visitors to see them exactly as they would have looked to Bess of Hardwick in the 16th Century, and explains some of the challenges of conservation. Discreet NFC tags are also available as location triggers, enabling the techno-savvy to integrate their physical experience with their digital one.

House and Collections Officer, Claire Hill wrote: “I hope you get a sense of the positive way our system is working out with our staff, volunteers and visitors. People who were sceptical about its use have been converted! … I remain very excited about the uses for Info-Point here at Hardwick and would like to see it spread across the Trust even further.”

The Trust’s feedback from visitors includes comments such as: ‘fantastic’, ‘easy to use’ and ‘helpful’, and an independent evaluation project reported:

“What became more apparent during analysis was what people enjoyed about the Info-Point. The survey and observation results showed that visitors felt it gave them something to do when they had walked ahead of their group and that they could in turn teach their friends/partners/family what they had learnt. This practice of passing on information to others is Info-Point’s biggest impact – it engages visitors with one another, allowing for the excitement of teaching bite-size yet interesting facts to one another in a way that other ‘visible’ interpretation does not allow.”