All makeovers start with a good structure and then enhance the existing natural assets. The Rocks Discovery Museum (RDM) in Sydney is a gem in this nationally significant heritage precinct. The museum was a Heritage Tourism Winner in the 2006 National Trust Awards and Awards Excellence Winner in the 2010 Interpretation Australia Awards.
The RDM is located in three historic buildings; Samson’s Cottage, Raphael’s Store and Mackellar’s Store. It was one of the first museums to use extensive multimedia to interpret the multi-layered history of The Rocks, including a selection from the thousands of artefacts from The Big Dig archaeological site.
The exhibition was originally designed by 3D Projects with the multimedia design and development by Art of Multimedia in collaboration with The Rocks heritage team, led by Wayne Johnson.
Located in a small heritage constrained space, the museum needed to deliver the majority of its artefact collection and stories in an interactive and layered fashion, which is why the digital displays were crucial.
Good design lasts, so when the museum finally received some funding from the NSW Department of Planning, Infrastructure and Environment to refresh it, we were asked to update the multimedia with new content.
While the digital exhibits still looked good and worked well, all software has undergone so much transformation in the 15 years; we could not simply update it. The multimedia needed to be redeveloped using modern technology and redesigned to fit the existing cabinetry while catering for larger screens and additional interpretive content, which the RDM team wanted to include.
Fortunately, AOM still had the original assets, and was able to extract the content for the current exhibits. This saved significant time and budget for our team and the client, so they could concentrate on the addition of many First Nations stories and perspectives on the colonial history of The Rocks. The Aboriginal perspective is broader and more profound, present across all the exhibitions and personalised with Indigenous voices in written narrative, photos, podcasts and videos.
AOM utilised the Intuiface platform to create most exhibits as it significantly reduces the amount of custom programming required. This enabled our team to focus on enhancing the visitor experience and visual design to meet the needs of contemporary audiences for the next decade.
Infuiface Analytics enables the museum to collect insights about their visitors’ interactions with the digital displays. The software allows the RDM to continually add new stories and even make structural changes to the exhibits if required. This enables better utilisation of the same hardware and available space. Natalie Gedeon, who project managed the update had this to say
"It was such a pleasure working with Beata Kade and her experienced team at Art of Multimedia for the upgrade of The Rocks Discovery Museum. The Museum was looking tired after 15 years in operation, the digital displays and hardware needed an update, along with a review of all our content and our desire to incorporate more Indigenous stories of the area.
The addition of the touch table featuring the interactive map of The Rocks and its attractions has been a highlight in the museum. Visitors are enjoying the ability to explore the buildings at a touch of a finger, they can download the history onto personal devices with the QR software and explore images showing the changes that have happened over each decade."
The upgrade also included the creation of a dedicated website to help the RDM activate The Rocks precinct with heritage stories, which can be consumed whilst in the precinct, promote and link in with events, online-only exhibitions, and temporary and permanent exhibitions. Read more about that project in this website case study and explore The Rocks Discovery Museum website.