By Craig Jordan-Baker
With the second lockdown in England here and the days continuing to draw in, it’s more important than ever to highlight what is available and accessible to us all at a time where we might think the world is in hibernation. While many museums in the UK and around the world are closed due to the pandemic, the DigiPiCH Project, run in partnership with the University of Brighton (UK), The Peale Center (US), The Royal Pavilion and Museums (UK) and The De La Warr Pavilion (UK) are finding ways of opening up museum resources during lockdown.
One way has been through our ‘Mindful Garden Tour’ of the Royal Pavilion Gardens in Brighton, which can be found here. The tour invites visitors to consider the historic garden not so much as a resource for learning, but for reflection and asking questions: Of the space, place and your response to it. Just before the second lockdown in England, the tour had some good feedback and about 40% of visitors were using it. While museums may be closed in England until December at least, the Pavilion Gardens are open and the tour is available to all. If you take the tour, please feel free to share your thoughts and responses, as this will help shape the project as it goes forward into 2021.
Another way the DigiPiCH project is opening things up during lockdown is to go digital, and provide ‘virtual visitors’ with an accessible and safe museum experience through an online platform. The Peale Center has just launched a project called “Redefine/ABLE: Challenging Inaccessibility” which is now open at the Virtual Peale. This has been created in Second Life, an interactive online world. For an article about the project, follow this link. The project aims to engage a wider audience with the museum, exploring in particular the realities and challenges faced by people with disabilities.
As a final important note, The Mindful Garden Tour is one tiny part of a broader recognition in science, government and third-sector interest in the benefits of green outdoor spaces. If you are interested in finding out more about the benefits of being outdoors, here are some links.
BBC News: ‘Royal College of Physicians president Sir Richard Thompson said plants helped reduce stress, anger and depression’ https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-26871970
NHS Forest Website: Which has links to peer-reviewed research about the evidence base for the health and wellbeing benefits of trees and outdoor spaces: https://nhsforest.org/benefits
We’ll be posting again in the near future about further developments in the DigiPiCH project.