The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, chose digital provider Imagineear as its partner to create a ground-breaking multimedia family experience, with the aim of widening their appeal to include a more diverse range of visitors and, in particular, local family groups.

Imagineear and the Ashmolean team worked together for over a year to develop a truly immersive and compelling multimedia family experience using Imagineear’s Multimedia GroupGuide™ (MGG™) and new Maestro™ 5.5” tablet device.

Developed for multi-generational family groups, ‘Ashmolean Adventure’ explores some of the Museum’s most intriguing objects through a variety of multimedia activities: from playing games and quizzes, enjoying sounds and stories to trying out design and drawing skills.

Children use a tablet inside a museum
© John Cairns

The MGG™ enables a new level of interaction within family groups and allows one member of the group to trigger content to the other group members’ devices. Quiz questions, stories or soundscapes are shared with others in the group who, in turn, explore the object to respond, reflect, create or find answers. ‘Ashmolean Adventure’ encourages family groups to look slowly at objects, to linger for longer and to connect with each other. With the audience at the heart of each activity, there are plenty of opportunities for both group interaction and individual reflection.

The device lends itself to providing exciting contextual interpretative information such as films, storytelling or soundscapes. Family groups match weatherscapes to Impressionist paintings, hear musical instruments come to life, watch films that bring alive mythological stories and discover what’s hidden through x-rays.

New functionality was developed to unlock this material and create an intuitive and playful experience for family groups: rubout the bandages of a mummy to reveal what’s inside; drag & drop, rotate and size objects to explore perspective; race through a series of challenges in the labyrinth to escape the Minotaur and magnify some of the Ashmolean’s smallest objects to view their incredible details.

Children use tablets and headphones inside a gallery
© John Cairns

All these activities were developed with the central idea: Which content and approach can a touchscreen multimedia device uniquely deliver to support a self-guided visit by family groups?

At each stage of the project, the approach and development of the activities was tested and evaluated by family groups in the Museum. During these sessions, family groups explored the relationship of concept, design, word, sound and image within each activity to ensure an immersive and meaningful experience. Equally important was the need for family groups to test ‘Ashmolean Adventure’ in terms of wayfinding to ensure an intuitive and independent experience on a self-guided visit.

“We are thrilled to have been chosen by the Ashmolean Museum, who recognised Imagineear’s proven expertise in creating truly innovative experiences, to create the ‘Ashmolean Adventure’ tour.” said Clare Cooper-Hammond, Managing Director of Imagineear. “As a company we are always looking for opportunities to partner with leading organisations to see how we challenge ourselves and create new ways for visitors to engage with collections. It has been such a joy to work with the ambitious team at the Ashmolean to create something really innovative.”

“We are so pleased to have partnered with Imagineear on this innovative project. Ashmolean Adventure is stunning and is beyond anything we’d ever dared imagine!” Said Helen Ward, Deputy Head of Learning at the Ashmolean Museum, “Feedback at test events has highlighted how much parents and carers value the fun and sociable experience it offers. With a rich variety of bespoke digital activities inspired by the amazing Ashmolean collections, the tour caters beautifully for a range of learning styles and interests, meaning there really is something for everyone in the family!

We have loved working with the creative and talented Imagineear team and very much hope to build on this collaboration.”

Feedback so far has been hugely positive, with one visitor saying, ‘This was one of the best kids museum activities we’ve ever done. The children were so inspired… as was I. I particularly loved the feature that you all did/listened to the same thing at the same time , so we could share the experience together, not move around separately.’

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