Last week, Wessex Archaeology attended the Museums + Heritage Show at the Olympia London for the first sector-wide meeting since the event’s postponement in 2020. The event is organised annually as a showcase for museum and heritage sector organisations and professionals with this year marking the Museum + Heritage Show’s 30th anniversary. As the sector’s largest free event, Wessex Archaeology was pleased to attend to discuss our range of bespoke and off-the-shelf authentic heritage interpretation as well as how we can collaborate with other content providers and museum organisations.

This year’s Museum + Heritage Show focused on the innovations in heritage and museum interpretation which have taken place in the last two years. Attended by a broad range of heritage interpretation specialists and museum practitioners, the event offered the opportunity to spread best practice, discuss new ways of working and to deliver expertise in specialist heritage interpretation.

As a leading provider of heritage interpretation services within the sector, Wessex Archaeology’s stand focused on our innovative examples of archaeologically informed Virtual Reality and reconstructions, plus Structured Light Scanning, display design and handling collections, video production and animation. We showcased successful collaboration with clients such as RPS Consulting Services Ltd., LM on behalf of HS2, and the Heritage Lottery Fund, demonstrating our commitment to providing accurate interpretations to engage your target audience.

Wessex Archaeology staff attend Museum + Heritage Show 2022 at London Olympia Karen Nichols, Studio Manager at Wessex Archaeology, holds up The Studio's contact card Jono Sutton, 3D Environment Artist, assists Museums + Heritage Show visitors in our VR experiences

Wessex Archaeology attends Museums + Heritage Show 2022

Meaningful legacies

A particular talking point for visitors was our selection of archaeological replica artefacts for handling, including 3D prints of a Saxon workbox, a 13th century Medieval seal, and a skull from New Covent Garden Market all reconstructed for use in Wessex Archaeology’s Sandford award-winning Community engagement. These reconstructions illustrate how Wessex Archaeology’s heritage interpretation meets increasing demand from clients and museums seeking to engage the public and ensures the meaningful legacy of each scheme.

We discussed how, when done well, archaeology and heritage interpretation can add significant value to the presentation of important archaeological research, helping our clients and partners create impactful and accessible interpretation from the early stages of project design through to delivery.

 

Karen Nichols, Studio Manager, said:

“This event provided a wonderful opportunity to meet up in person with the wide range of people working within the Heritage sector. From recent students to consummate professionals working in museum and providing installations, we found the engagement level we received for our stand surpassed our expectations. People were excited to meet us and to experience some of our products on stand. We received a lot of positive feedback on both days.

Many people had heard of Wessex Archaeology but were not aware that we have dedicated in-house Studio specialists creating such a wide range of historically accurate heritage interpretation products. We found some people did know that we provide interpretation services to the construction industry, but they didn’t know that we also work directly with museums. We are looking forward to building on the new relationships we forged at the event and creating engaging content for you that brings the past to life!”

Lizzie Glithero-West, from The Heritage Alliance, tries out Wessex Archaeology VR Beth Harrison, Community Engagement Coordinator, at the Museums + Heritage Show 2022

Community engagement at Museums + Heritage Show 2022

Participatory VR Experiences for Learning

The range of talks at this year's Museum + Heritage Show was particularly stimulating. Wessex Archaeology was proud to participate in the ‘Working with schools; now and in the future’ panel with Samuel Fieldhouse, Community and Education Manager, discussing how VR experiences can effectively contribute to museum-school learning. The museum-school learning panel, hosted in the afternoon of 12 May, focused on what heritage sector experts have learnt from continuing to educate through the pandemic. Wessex Archaeology’s talk concentrated on our innovative participatory use of VR for education, at museums as well as at heritage events.

Samuel Fieldhouse, Community and Education Manager, gives a talk on VR use for schools learning

Wessex Archaeology’s talk as part of the ‘Working with schools; now and in the future’ panel

Wessex Archaeology’s presentation demonstrated how the key to effective use of VR as a learning tool lies in group participation and the opportunities for inquisitiveness this creates. This participatory approach to VR elevates learning outcomes by enabling children to ask questions about what they see before them in VR experiences. Participatory approaches to VR experiences work successfully in combination with Wessex Archaeology’s authentic VR experiences, based on our extensive specialisms and knowledge of the archaeological record. Our detailed 3D models of the places and historic events Wessex Archaeology has researched allow children to interact with realistic replica models of real artefacts and meet people in the past. These are also multi-sensory experiences with sound, visuals, and haptics encouraging children to pick up and handle objects.

VR experiences at Museums + Heritage Show 2022

Showcasing VR at the Museums + Heritage Show

Jono Sutton, 3D Environment Artist, said:

“It was brilliant to be able to showcase our work to a wide range of people and to get so many positive responses to the VR environments. People were really taken by the small details such as the use of Phil Harding’s educational voiceover guiding you through the Salisbury Medieval townhouse VR and the animated elements such as the drove of piglets which really brought the environment to life.

It was interesting to see how people responded differently to the VR. Some people were hesitant to move around, treating the experience carefully as you might with a gallery or museum whereas others interacted more adventurously, peering into corners, picking up items and opening chests. I’m excited to develop this more exploratory approach to VR over the coming years and collaborate with other VR and AR specialists to breathe life into historic concepts.”

Will Foster, Wessex Archaeology Senior Graphics Officer, using Bath Abbey VR experience

Heritage Interpretation Services


Heritage Interpretation Services
Heritage Interpretation at Heathrow Terminal 2

Heritage Interpretation Specialisms


Heritage Interpretation Specialisms