Digital technology breathes new life into the National Trust's Osterley Park

By Culture24 Staff | 06 March 2009
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picture of an audivisual hand held console

Courtesy of the National Trust

The magnificent Osterley Park and House in West London has been given a new lease of life thanks to some groundbreaking audiovisual guides.

The hand held guides offer different ways of discovering the history of the house for adults and families as well as providing better accessibility for the visually impaired and hard of hearing.

Osterley Park House was created by 18th century designer Robert Adam for a wealthy banking family and now tens of thousands of tourists visit the city based rural idyll every year.

Options on the new audiovisual guide will allow visitors to zoom in on details of the house and its beautiful interiors that they would not normally be able to examine in detail.

Examples include the magnificent copy of Reuben’s Glorification of the first Duke Of Buckingham, which is tantalizingly out of reach, hung on the ceiling above the Grand Staircase and the sumptuous Gobelin tapestries in the Tapestry Room that cannot be viewed due to the fragile state of the carpet and furnishings.

Visitors are able to customize the digital tour to their needs – detouring certain areas and focusing on other sections of the house that are of particular interest.

A photograph of a large tapestry

Tapestry Room at Osterley courtesy of the National Trust

An interactive tour designed for families will help to make the history of the great house more approachable for younger visitors.

A 'Tweenie', or servant girl, leads visitors around the house whilst carrying out her duties such as filling fireplaces with coal or carrying water.

This version of the guide also gives behind the scenes access to rooms that are not normally accessible to view by the public and there is a series of interactive activities available such as playing the harpsichord.

The team at Osterley have also been working hard to transform other areas of the house – the once bustling Servants Hall is now home to a series of projected images showing the duties that servants would have had to carry out.

Exhibition rooms around the house give further insight into the designs of Robert Adam and the lives of the Child and Jersey families who owned Osterley.

A photograph of a country house

Osterley House courtesy of the National Trust

Property Sian Harrington said: "We have listened to feedback from visitors and hope that these developments will make a big difference to their visits. The handsets are a real breakthrough for the Trust and will give our visitors a chance to experience an historic house in a completely new way."

Work continues at Osterley as the grounds are being restored offering the perfect countryside retreat for quick getaway from city life.

Osterley Park and house is now open until November 1, 2009, Wednesdays to Sundays and Bank Holidays. The house is open 1- 4.30 and the garden 11- 5pm. The park is open all year round.

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