Visitors to the University of New England will soon be able to view all of its heritage buildings and entire collections of national significance with the touch of a button.
The Past in Your Palm project will use hand-held interactive audio visual ‘tour guides’ to help visitors navigate and interpret UNE’s vast array of historic structures and exhibits, many of which are currently not accessible by the general public.
At the heart of the project – made possible by a $96,550 NSW Office of Heritage & Environment “Heritage Near Me” grant – is the university’s original building, the iconic Booloominbah homestead, designed by renowned architect John Horbury Hunt.
“'Bool’ is an amazing building with a very interesting history,” Dr Bronwyn Hopwood, who is leading the project, said.
“It is also unique for the exceptional breadth of the collections it houses, and these hand-held guides will allow people to explore the building, its history and collections at their leisure.”
But Booloominbah is not the only significant building on campus. There is also the Vice-Chancellor’s residence, Trevenna, as well as archaeological collections of worldwide significance in the Museum of Antiquities, the UNE art collection, Natural History Museum, geology collection and an internationally-recognised herbarium, featuring historic and rare plant specimens, to name a few.
The handsets will be made available at strategic locations around campus when the project is officially launched in early 2019.
“The project will make as much of UNE’s heritage and collections accessible to as many people as possible” Dr Hopwood said.
“Whether it’s for five minutes or five hours, visitors will also be able explore the heritage we have here, virtually.
“For instance, UNE’s art collection is spread throughout every building on campus, but with these devices you will literally have it available for viewing in the palm of your hand.”
The ‘guides’ will be configured with text, images, videos, games and activities aimed at both adults and children, with much of the information arranged into themes.
“UNE is not only a centre of learning and research excellence, but a caretaker of significant regional, national and international heritage, for the benefit of the entire community,” Dr Hopwood said.
“This project is important because it will shine a light on the many hidden treasures we have here at UNE and show how they contribute to the vibrancy of the New England region.”