AudioSign Turn Posts – RSPB Minsmere
The result is a collection of great exhibits aimed at the whole family. In the ‘Wild Zone’ for example you will find a huge recreation of a Sand martin’s nest which children can scurry through (much to their delight), the ‘spotter station’ which teaches children and adults alike how to properly use binoculars, a Seasonal Sundial (which is where we come in, more on that below) and a maze that teaches about the migration habits of birds.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is a charity in Great Britain that promotes conservation of the environment, with a particular focus on bird life. Located in Minsmere, Suffolk, is the Minsmere RSPB nature reserve. Founded in 1947 the nature reserve is just under 4 square miles in size and is known as one of the best places to go in the UK for bird watchers. Thanks to various walks, plenty of wildlife to see and the new Discovery Centre and Wild Zone it’s the perfect destination for a day out discovering nature with the whole family.
In a bid to increase family engagement at RSPB Minsmere and inspire a younger generation to take an active interest in conservation, with a particular focus on the bird population, the RSPB hired interpretation designers Outside Studios to create the new ‘Family Discovery Zone’. The plans quickly grew outside the scope of a single ‘zone’ and Outside Studios found themselves taking on a more “reserve-wide approach’.
Photos and info courtesy of Outside Studios
The result is a collection of great exhibits aimed at the whole family. In the ‘Wild Zone’ for example you will find a huge recreation of a Sand martin’s nest which children can scurry through (much to their delight), the ‘spotter station’ which teaches children and adults alike how to properly use binoculars, a Seasonal Sundial (which is where we come in, more on that below) and a maze that teaches about the migration habits of birds. Dotted throughout the rest of the reserve are other various creative exhibits such as hides for kids and a ‘nature challenge’ found in a tree stump.
Seasonal Sundial – AudioSign Turns
In the Wild Zone (as already mentioned) is the impressive Seasonal Sundial. The sundial is constructed of 4 large wooden posts that represent each of the four seasons with a fifth smaller post operating as the gnomon (this is the part of a sundial that casts a shadow, don’t worry we didn’t know either!). Combined these posts operate as a noon-clock type sundial, on a certain date and time in each season the shadow will fall on the appropriate seasonal post.
Each of the 5 posts were carved by local craftsman Luke Chapman, at the top of each post is the season it represents and a bird (or in one case a bee) that you are likely to see around RSPB minsmere. Outside Studios also wanted to add audio interpretation to each of these posts which is where blackbox-av come in. We were approached with the challenge of finding a way to add audio to the posts and turn them into external sound stores, without the aid of mains power. The idea was to have animal and bird sounds that visitors could select and listen too that would represent each season.
The answer was some bespoke AudioSign Turns, oval shaped so they could snugly fit the width of each post, holes were carved by the craftsman and the Audio Signs were slotted through front-ways and secured in place.
As you can see from the images, thanks to the excellent work of the craftsman and creative interpretation sign design on the AudioSign Turns, this solution worked wonderfully. Visitors to RSPB Minsmere seem to agree considering RSPB have just announced that they’ve been voted #1 outdoor attraction in East Anglia by Tripadvisor reviewers, no doubt partly thanks to their recent efforts with the new exhibits.