Leading Museums, Museum Leaders

Everyday time machines

Roman gladiators fight in Guildhall Yard in one of London’s history apps. Photo: History TM.

Ray Edgar, Smartphones become time machines as apps bring history within reach, The Sydney Morning Herald, 8 July 2016

Port Melbourne is the latest testing ground where boundaries between past and present collapse.

Gladiators come to life and do battle. An animated Charles Dickens provides a personal tour of London’s dark end streets. The devastating consequences of the Blitz appear around you. Welcome to London, where the smart phone is now a time machine.

“We’ve taken our content to the streets of London, literally,” says Antony Robbins, director of communications at the Museum of London.

How we experience museums is changing. Using apps enhanced with audio, video and augmented reality overlays, past and present collide. Indeed the future of history never looked so bright – or proved so popular.

“Street Museum [one of five apps] has been phenomenal,” says Robbins. “We were expecting 5000 to 10,000 downloads. We’re now up to 500,000 downloads across the world. The international reach has been a real surprise.”

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Council of Australasian Museum Directors, c/o Ms Daryl Karp, Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House PO Box 3934 Manuka, Australian Capital Territory 2603 Australia, © CAMD 2021
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