A group of final year students in heritage and humanities subjects teamed up with second year BA (Hons) Graphic Communication students and No.1 Royal Crescent to create an iPad app using objects on loan from Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution (BRLSI). The aim of this cross-disciplinary project was to produce an informative and educational app explaining the history and background of ‘Cabinets of Curiosities’ and the Grand Tour. More specifically, the app looks in detail at objects a typical eighteenth century gentleman would have collected on his tour. The app related directly to a real Cabinet of Curiosity recreated by BRLSI and Bath Preservation Trust at No.1 Royal Crescent, which will be viewed by many tens of thousands of visitors every year.
Cabinets of Curiosities were popular in the eighteenth century when wealthy gentlemen and traders collected rare and exotic objects from around the globe. On returning to England they would often go to great lengths to display these souvenirs and objects in cabinets or specially designed rooms. Collections Manager, Matt Williams, who guided the selection of these objects from the BRLSI museum collection said: “We carefully chose objects that related to the known interests of a real eighteenth century resident of No.1 Royal Crescent”.
BA (Hons) History graduate Stacey Turner said: “I undertook this project as part of my final year project and it was great fun. The skills involved in being part of a project like this have most definitely helped my employability credentials.” BA (Hons) Graphic Communication student, Rebecca Bendall added: “It was a great opportunity to work with a group of people with such different skill sets to my own. It was like a live brief and this experience has hopefully better prepared me for working for a company with real deadlines that have to be met.”
Dr Kristin Doern, Heritage Subject Leader at Bath Spa University and co-ordinator of the project commented: “This project offered our students a fantastic opportunity to be involved in a Heritage Lottery funded redevelopment of a major Bath museum and gave the University a chance to work across subjects to produce an app that really brings to life eighteenth century passions for collecting.” Tom Boden, Head of Museums at the Bath Preservation Trust added: “We are delighted to see this fantastic app now available on the App Store. As part of the restoration process merging No. 1a with No.1 Royal Crescent, we invited the Heritage Department at Bath Spa University to create an app that would be of use to visitors of this iconic heritage building.”
Senior Lecturer in Design, and Learning Technologist at Bath School of Art and Design, Neil Glen was interested in exploring the relationship between digital and physical experiences. He added: “Enhancing student skills with digital technologies is essential, but this project allowed the students to go further, exploring real objects and creating an app to complement the Cabinet of Curiosities at No1 Royal Crescent.”
The app can now be downloaded for free from the App Store by following this link.