Looking forward: The Rural Life Museum

Humber Museums Partnership - Looking forward: The Rural Life Museum

About the project

Those who have not been to Normanby Hall Country Park in the last year will not know the Rural Life Museum. Actually, they will, but under a different name. Because in March 2020 we renamed our Farming Museum to the Rural Life Museum. This new name represents the contents of the museum a lot better. We hope that it will bring new visitors that previously were not too sure if the museum was for them. There is a lot more to see than just farming related displays!

For those that have not been or those who would like to have another look around while the museum closed, you can visit by using the 3D tour. https://www.northlincs.gov.uk/tourism-museums-the-arts/welcome-to-north-lincolnshire-museum/

The Rural Life Museum 3D tour in the Living on the Land gallery.

This 3D tour and the others that we commissioned have been great during lock down. When working from home we could still see the displays, plan changes and even measure exhibits with the handy measurement tool.

Normanby Hall: http://www.normanbyhall.co.uk/house-grounds/the-house-family/

North Lincolnshire Museum: http://www.normanbyhall.co.uk/house-grounds/the-rural-life-museum/

The re-naming was step one of the changes to the museum. And we have more changes in mind for the future. We want to make the museum connect more with the area. To put more personal stories in with the displays and to show the connection of the Sheffield family with rural North Lincolnshire. We will be doing this by adding displays, adding and / or removing objects from existing displays and adding more personal stories to the text panels.

At the moment, the museum already has a great deal of information available for visitors. In some cases, possibly too much information! We have our handlists, which are booklets that refer to the objects on display. Though we would like it if we could tell every object’s life-story, we unfortunately cannot. Sometimes we only have a simple description of an object and know not a lot more about its history. This makes some handlists possibly a bit boring.

For example, a part of the handlist for the wheelwright display:

Image of handlist

You can imagine in a display with about 60 objects, that makes a long list. And this will not be interesting to every visitor and may put people off. Therefore, I will be making a more focussed list of high lights. We still want all the information to be available to the visitors. It would be great to have a touchscreen available in the reception area. This could contain the 3D tour and all available information about objects on display.

But at first, we may just have to leave the extra information with our front of house staff.

Going back to the wheelwright as example. I will select the most significant / typical tools used by the wheelwright and will highlight these on our new handlists. Explaining what they were used for in more detail.

This image shows the Wheelwright display. The blue dots are the hotspots in the 3D tour.

Something else that would be great to do with a touchscreen is to add additional ways of sharing information. If you look in the 3D scan you see there are hot spots, blue ones show text and sometimes images. Red coloured hot spots are videos. They open links to you tube and show videos that explain more about how things work, like machines or how things were made. More of these could be added to a touchscreen and bring objects to life for visitors.

It would be great to have the working of the thresher explained on a touchscreen.

If you want to have an idea now, have a look in this publication of the Rural Museum Network “Drum Rolls”. http://www.ruralmuseums.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Drums-Roll.pdf

The larger general information panels around the museum contain photographs and information about the theme of the displays.

One of the general information panels in the museum.

An idea is to split the panels in 2 or 3 sections. General information on the theme, a personal story of a local person or people and a more technical part on how machinery worked or changed over the years. In this way there is more and varied information available and visitors can choose what interests them.

The changes will take place over the next few years.