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Telling Tales, Talking Trails: Digital Storytelling in Museums & Historical Settings

Published by: Nick Kay
Digital Storytelling in Preston Manor. A hand holds a mobile phone displaying a webpage with the Preston Manor audio tour. They are standing in a room in Preston Manor.

New voices, New Stories

Thanks to the National Lottery Heritage Fund Brighton & Hove Museums have taken the opportunity to shake up our formula with Telling Tales, Talking Trails. In collaboration with volunteers, we developed a set of digital experiments aimed at introducing new ways of storytelling.

Audio guides

Audio guides are a wonderful way of telling stories in historic houses, as spoken words can augment the visitor experience. A new Preston Manor audio guide was created in 2022 in the form of a WebApp tour with transcribed text and images.

From the browser on your mobile device, you can access the guided tour as you explore the building, or you can enjoy in the comfort of your own home.

You can experience the audio tour on the website 

Digital Storytelling in Preston Manor. A hand holds a mobile phone displaying a webpage with the Preston Manor audio tour. They are standing in a room in Preston Manor.
Person holding a phone while using audio guide in Preston Manor

The Preston Manor audio guide was the first product to emerge through Telling Tales, Talking Trails. This is something we had wanted to do for a while, but support from NLHF didn’t only give us the resources to do this, it also provided an opportunity to do things in a completely new way.

Rather than trying to tell the story of Preston Manor in the same old way, we invited nine volunteers to take up the challenge.

Over a series of five workshops in 2021, the volunteers had the chance to research and explore Preston Manor. We provided training in interview and storytelling techniques, and the experience of recording audio in a makeshift sound booth.

The results were a variety of new perspectives and unique stories, these none non-typical insights were only made possible by the inclusion of local volunteers and the support of the NHLF.

Person holding a phone while using audio guide in Preston Manor
Audio guide in use in Preston Manor Dining Room

One Minute Experience app

The next phase in the Telling Tales, Talking Trails digital project was the One Minute Experience app, One Minute Wonders, launched in 2023.

This combined the power of digital storytelling with an exhibition of animal and plant-related prints and drawings from our collection. This experimental display combined the power of storytelling with a menagerie of animal and plant-related prints and drawings chosen from our collection.

The display was curated entirely by volunteers who have swept away the old museum labels in favour of their own interpretations, using the One Minute storytelling app.

You can read the volunteer stories and explore their curated trail online.

We would like to share our experience and findings with you in a five-episode series of podcasts titled The One Minute Museum Podcast ‘Tell me about the Chamber Pots’

Audio guide in use in Preston Manor Dining Room
Two people holding audio guides in Preston Manor.

The One Minute Museum Podcast ‘Tell me about the Chamber Pots’

From Brighton and Hove Museums, this is The One Minute Museum Podcast ‘Tell me about the Chamber Pots’, a five-part podcast series about a year of innovation in digital storytelling in our museums.

Episode 1: Crowdsourcing a Preston Manor Audio Tour

In the summer of 2022, a dedicated group of volunteers scripted and presented a new audio tour for Preston Manor. The results were fascinating, enlightening, and funny. The project proved to be an inspiring and fresh approach to exploring social history.

In this episode, Kevin Bacon, now Senior Collections Manager at the University of Sussex library, speaks to the volunteer group who gave their time to the project.

Episode 2: One Minute Wonders

In 2022 and early 2023, a dedicated group of volunteers created new content for the new One Minute Experience app designed by the IT University of Copenhagen, in collaboration with Brighton and Hove Museums. In 2023 it was live tested at the One Minute Experience exhibition in Brighton Museum. Then we removed all conventional labelling from the items on display, which proved an unsettling surprise for many visitors.

For this episode, Kevin Bacon speaks to the group of volunteers who created the labelling content for the exhibition.

Two people holding audio guides in Preston Manor.
Man using audio guide

Episode three: The tour guide and the curator

In this episode, Preston Manor’s veteran tour guide and resident ghost expert, Paul Wrightson, who is now Creative Programmer at Brighton and Hove Museums, alongside curator Lucy Faithful, are in conversation with Kevin Bacon. They discuss the project and working with volunteers from their perspectives, as museum professionals.

Episode 4: Digital storytelling in the museum

In this episode, Kevin Bacon converses with writer, academic, and storyteller, Dr Craig Jordan-Baker, who ran workshops for our volunteers as part of our project, and oversaw the narrative development of the tour guide and One Minute App.

Episode 5: A focus on inclusivity

To conclude our series, we talked to Liz Porter and Simone LaCorbiniѐre, joint Heads of Culture Change & Inclusion at Brighton & Hove Museums, and Ceryl Evans, Director of Engagement & Public Programmes, after a tour of Preston Manor when they had experienced for themselves the new audio guide stories created by volunteers. This conversation begins with their reflections on that experience.

Man using audio guide
Telling Tales, Talking Trails at Preston Manor. A close up of two people holding mobile phones

Telling Tales, Talking Trails – A Case Study

Telling Tales, Talking Trails at Preston Manor. A close up of two people holding mobile phones
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‘Tell me about the Chamber Pots’, is a Brighton and Hove Museums Production.
It was written, presented, and edited by Charlotte Petts, and Chris Thorpe-Tracey, for Lo Fi Arts.
The main interviewer was Kevin Bacon.
This series was produced by Nick Kay and Kevin Bacon for Brighton & Hove Museums.

This podcast titled The One Minute Museum Podcast ‘Tell me about the Chamber Pots’ is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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