Royal Armouries looks to digital future as Leeds museum celebrates 25 years

The Royal Armouries is looking to the future as the Leeds museum celebrates 25 years in the city.

Wednesday, 31st March 2021, 9:51 am
Children interact with the displays at the Royal Armouries in Leeds. PIC: Royal Armouries
Children interact with the displays at the Royal Armouries in Leeds. PIC: Royal Armouries

The attraction was billed as the most exciting day out in history when it first opened to the public in March 1996 at a cost of £42.5 million.

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Go inside Leeds Royal Armouries when it first opened to the public

During that time more than six million people have visited the Leeds waterfront to wonder at its five galleries and 8,500 objects on display.

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Inside the Royal Armouries when it first opened in March 1996.

Fast forward to 2021 and the museum has been awarded £429,600 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund for the rollout of Digital Vision.

This transformative digital project will aim to enable the Royal Armouries to engage new audiences at a time when online experiences are ever more critical.

The project will include transforming the museum’s capacity to produce accessible, engaging, and relevant digital content for its growing audiences; delivering a seamless online experience, enabling audiences to draw media from across the museum’s digital resource in a user-friendly way; create relationships with online visitors based on a more detailed understanding of what they expect and need from their digital museum experience; developing and installing a new welcome in the form of a digital playground on site.

Digital volunteers will be key to the project’s success and the Royal Armouries looks forward to working with an advisory panel made up of volunteers with an interest in creating new digital content to tell the stories of the collection.

Dr Edward Impey, director general and master of the Armouries, said: “What better way to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the opening of the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds than by announcing our innovative digital plans. Thanks to National Lottery players we will be able to harness the power of digital to reach even more audiences and to share the wonders of our world-leading collection of arms and armour”.

National Lottery Heritage Fund's area director for the north, David Renwick, said: “It is fantastic news that thanks to National Lottery players, we have been able to support the Royal Armouries with this forward-looking digital project.

“The Covid-19 crisis has shown us the value of engaging digitally with communities and so we are keen to support projects that use digital innovation to connect people with their heritage. Whilst everyone is keen to get back to engaging with heritage directly, it is important to develop all channels that help open up important collections to wider audiences.”

Claire Cox, head of development at the Royal Armouries, said: “We are delighted with this award from The National Lottery Heritage Fund and thank all the staff and volunteers for their hard work in helping us to prepare for the bid. This project was already a priority for the Royal Armouries but with the emergence of Covid-19 and its impact on us and the communities we serve, it has become even more important to our future.

"The new digital content we developed during lockdown has already proved successful, but we can achieve so much more with this support. We are enormously grateful to The Heritage Fund for supporting this project at a time of uncertainty for the heritage sector”.

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