Sometimes people find the challenge of finding new ways to engage with potential visitors quite daunting. But it doesn't need to be! There are lots of fun ways to spark a visitor's interest in your building and lots of places where you can find good ideas. Think about other heritage sites that you have visited. What did you enjoy most? What captured your imagination? Could you do something similar to tell your story perhaps?
You can also find some practical advice and top tips on the Arthur Rank Centre website.
This example is one that made me smile on a recent visit to Boston St Botolph – also known with some irony as 'The Stump' as it has a splendidly tall spire. A group of local crafters had created a knitted version of the church – and it looked fabulous.
So what great ideas have you seen that you can share with other people?
Our little model for the roof appeal seems to be popular, and shows how international our visitors are!
I recently worked with Silkstone All Saints & St James the Greater on a brilliant project which involved the whole village in telling the story of the church, local industrial heritage and family history.
The interpretation was pretty simple stuff, but simple is often the most effective, and what visitors want!
It included boards, pull up banners, trails, walks and leaflets, a website which includes a google tour of the building and much more. They also built a new room for village history archives and research in the church.
What impressed me the most was the number of people from the village who got involved. They brought in objects, helped make a new stained glass windows and spent hours and hours in libraries and doing other research.
Attached are a few pics!
Thanks for these great tips Rosie and Sarah
I love the roof model with the colourful flags. I almost wish we could try this on the actual roof as it would look great on Google earth!
And there's some excellent ideas in the Silkstone project too. I think that keeping it simple does work well and using themes to help visitors make the links between various objects makes sense too.
And just for fun - how about a church-shaped hedge...
This project from the Housman Society impressed me recently:
Alongside restoring the John Adams memorial in Bromsgrove cemetery, the group produced interesting cemetery walks explaining the key historical features. They also looked at the natural heritage of the church yard and produced a tree trail.
Part of the success of the project was the strong partnership between the District Council, Avoncroft Museum, Victorian Society and local history society. Working in partnership can bring new ideas and expertise to ensure your interpretation appeals to the widest possible audience.
Thanks Catherine and Sheila. I thoroughly agree that partnerships can play a vital role in creating and delivering engaging interpretation projects. The fresh perspectives that people from other backgrounds bring can be very exciting and artists in particular can often help generate thought-provoking and sometimes challenging exhibits.
There's an example I like in Exeter created by Patricia MacKinnon-Day on the site of the Almshouses in Catherine Street. Constructed in 1450, the Almhouses underwent a series of repairs about 15 years ago and Patricia was commissioned to interpret the ruins. Her installations use an eclectic mix of archaeological finds, fibre optic lights, industrial glass and text to lead the visitor on a journey through the space, hinting at the multiple layers of its history.
You can read about the project and its aims at http://www.mackinnon-day.com/recentProjectPage.aspx?SelectedProject=3&SelectedPage=18
Here's another good resource for making visitors feel welcome:
The Spirit in Stone project, funded by the HLF, worked with 50 churches in 7 local area 'clusters', to engage volunteers and visitors in the rich cultural heritage of historic places of worship in the North East.
As part of its legacy the team have produced – with sponsorship from Ecclesiastical – ‘Church Buildings for Everyone - A Visitor Welcome Toolkit’. This is a practical resource to help volunteers in local churches to enhance their visitor welcome, plan new activities and produce new materials. It can be downloaded from the website or ordered as a DVD computer disc.
And if you are looking for inspiration for your summer holiday you can explore the online gazetter of churches in the North East!
And here's another useful digset of three good ideas about how to prepare materials for children from the SPAB's Maintenance Co-operatives Project website:
Is lego the best way to tell the story of your place of worship? Have a look at this great video by Durham Catherdral and decide for yourself.