Finchingfield Guildhall, Essex
We used a range of digital multi-touch displays in order to create layered interpretation that was highly engaging to visitors and gives the trustees flexibility to update in the scheme in the future.
– Chris Jones, Smith and Jones
Founded in 1470, Finchingfield Guildhall has been used over the centuries as a place of education, poor relief and civic administration until the early 20th century when state education was born. The building fell into disrepair until the 1950’s when attempts were made to maintain and use the Guildhall once again, however the use of then ‘modern’ building materials harmed the ancient timber frame and by 2006 the now Grade I listed building was closed and declared ‘At Risk’ by English Heritage.
Now thanks to a £1.8 million and 7 year transformation project (supported largely by the Lottery Heritage Fund as well as donations) the Guildhall has been restored and can once again play a part of village life as a museum, library and event space.
Smith and Jones Design Consultants were commissioned by The Guildhall Trust to develop a museum space within the newly renovated Guildhall and best interpret its rich history, giving visitors a better understanding of how the Guildhall has been used throughout the centuries.
Utilising modern technology and clean white aesthetics the new museum space stands in contrast to, but at the same time compliments the bucolic building and setting. Once the interpretation plan was finalised Smith and Jones commissioned us to develop from their designs all AV hardware and software required to make the space function. We worked closely with Smith and Jones who were responsible for the design, development and direction of the content and graphics for each of the displays, we were then tasked with the installation of these AV solutions.
AV & Software
The focal point of the interpretation plan is a large 46″ Multi-touch table that allows visitors to see the village as it developed through the ages. Dotted around the museum are other smaller interactive screens each displaying various forms of information, from touch-screen slideshows to ‘touch the object to find out more’ style interactives.
Each interactive is powered by its own small form-factor PC running bespoke museum software, allowing individual control over each exhibit and the flexibility for easier future updates.
RFID is cleverly used in an exhibit where visitors can pick up panels and scan them to trigger either audio or visual clips related to that particular item. We also supplied a period telephone that is activated via 20 buttons, smartly installed into the table it sits upon.
An intriguing highlight is a large and ornate digital photo frame we developed (designed to look like the frame of an old painting) which displays portraits of various important figures from the Finchingfield past.
The combination of old and new at Finchingfield Guildhall makes for a really engaging and dynamic experience, something recognised by English Heritage who have shortlisted the project for an English Heritage Angel Award.