Sometimes the early morning job of unlocking the Booth Museum is a rather sombre affair as Mr. Booth’s birds slowly emerge from the gloom, polishing their glass eyes ready to face their public once more. But now they are greeted by a new wake up call, an uplifting experience that the birds, our staff and all our visitors can share – the dawn chorus has reached the Booth!
For the last month or so, the sounds of a Norfolk woodland and its myriad of birds has been brightening the Booth Museum, bringing life to the otherwise somewhat eerie and quirky atmosphere that the Booth is loved for. It is almost as if the roof has opened when the songs and calls of crows, blackbirds, owls, cuckoos, robins and many other species ring out across the Museum.
The sound installation was introduced first as a temporary measure to see if it could add a new dimension to the visitor experience and to provide an opportunity to get feedback from our visitors, as well as from our staff. A simple form was designed to ask the questions – how much do you like the bird song playing in the Museum, should it be on all the time and is it too loud? In all, 100 visitors helped us gauge the success of this trial. The results are in!
Almost 90% of visitors rated the bird song as 7-10 on a scale of 1 to 10 with a massive 40% giving it a top score of 10. What’s more, 80% thought the recording should play all the time, as indeed it has been during the trial period. Some visitor comments have been very rewarding:
“Think it’s a great idea, really good for the imagination and makes the experience even more enjoyable”
“It’s very relaxing”
“We loved it – thank you!”
“Very fitting, made the visit more pleasurable”
“It’s fabulous – brings the Museum to life!! Very good as extra sensory feel for visually impaired of for people with special needs and adds to the experience of the visit”
We asked visitors if the bird song was too loud – 83% said not although that does mean that 17% thought the opposite and so we will be turning the volume down just a tad. We were of course very concerned for the well being of our Visitor Service Officers on duty in the Booth and who hear the sounds throughout the day, perhaps at the risk of overexposure but they have been supportive and positive and one or two have even found it to be relaxing and soothing during busy periods.
And so the bird song will stay at least for the immediate future. Come in and see what you think. Check out a sneak peak on our Tumblr.
John Cooper, Keeper of Natural Science