Digital renovation of "the Old House" completed
On 11 December 2015 Talbot House celebrates its 100th birthday. Following a multi-annual plan the house and garden were fully renovated. The renovation - in agreement with Environment and Heritage and sponsored by the City of Poperinge, the Province of West Flanders and the Flemish government - is now complete. Besides the practical renovation of the house and the garden, the educational offer was also renewed. On 12 October the Talbot House association crowned their work with the festive inauguration of Tubby's Story Tablets©, a brand new digital guide-system.
Tubby's Story Tablets©
The number of people visiting Talbot House has been increasing over the last couple of years and will increase even further in the near future. Not the stories about the House themselves, but the way in which we tell them to our visitors had to be change because of that. Those of you who have visited Talbot House before will know that as of now you need to have a guide to enjoy your visit to the fullest. It is however technically and practically impossible to offer each and every one of our visitors an elaborate "story tour". The size of some of the rooms in the House and the amount of guides at our disposal prevent us from doing so. In cooperation with Beligum, the company that is also responsible for our new website, we were able to turn our wildest ideas into a realistic and achievable yet modern and high-tech product: Tubby's Story Tablets.
From 12 October onwards, each visitor or group of visitors (up to about five people) will be given a tablet upon arrival after which they will be able to select a tour. Larger groups will be split up into smaller groups and treated the same way. In a first phase we will offer a general ("classic") tour. A "kids tour" will be introduced during the spring of 2014. After that we will be able to easily add new tours such as for example an Anzac Day tour or a Christmas tour. Each tour will be available in multiple languages and we will have tours available at every difficulty level. We have also taken into consideration that there should be different tours as far as time and length goes.
Each tour consists of a certain number of hotspots throughout the house, the garden and the museum. Once a tour has been selected the tablet will automatically show the visitor the direction in which he or she should walk. A blueprint (floor-plan) of the building and a compass (think of Jack Sparrow's compass) will help to lead the way. When the destination - in this case the first hotspot - is reached a "story" about that location will start to play. This story can contain video, a voice, a song, an image or even some text. In time we will also implement interactivity in our tablets, such as a hotspot that lets you play the piano or one that asks you to sign a digital version of the "friendships corner".
We believe that these tablets are the ideal way to bring Talbot House up to speed with recent developments and turn the limitations of the Old House into its strengths. Talbot House is still a real home. For 100 years it has never stopped being the "Every Man's Club" it set out to be in 1915. This also means that we don't want to put our collection behind a glass panel for people to look at from a distance. We want to keep everything open, accessible and authentic. Each and every visitor must feel at home here. That's where these tablets come in handy because - while not changing anything about the House itself - our visitors will be able to experience the history in this place better than ever before.
Submitted by Raf Craenhals, Manager, Talbot House