Digital pilot will take visitors ‘inside’ William Shakespeare’s lost home

A still from Shakespeare XR which gives visitors a virtual look inside Shakespeare’s New Place in Stratford-upon-Avon. Photo © The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust / AiSolve

A pilot Extended Reality (XR) project will give visitors their first chance to see virtually inside Shakespeare’s New Place — 260 years after his grand family home in Stratford-upon-Avon was demolished.

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is working with artificial intelligence and immersive technology specialists AiSolve and Coventry University’s Centre for Postdigital Cultures on the first of a series of digital experiments exploring the application of emerging technologies at the charity’s Shakespeare heritage sites in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Visitors to Shakespeare’s New Place will use a coin- and contactless card-operated viewfinder that combines Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) to recreate the house against the live backdrop of the site as it is today, before being invited inside by one of the family’s servants to have a 180-degree look around the Courtyard, Hall and Long Gallery.

William Shakespeare bought New Place in 1597 and it remained in his family’s ownership until the death of his granddaughter, Elizabeth Barnard, in 1670. The house was then extensively remodelled and eventually demolished in 1759.

The Shakespeare XR project is part of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s new creative programme that is being developed with support from Arts Council England.

Paul Taylor, acting director of cultural engagement at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, said, “Shakespeare XR presents two firsts for us: it gives our visitors the chance to virtually step inside Shakespeare’s New Place for the first time since it was demolished in 1759, and is the first digital visitor experience that is specific to one of our heritage sites. This is the start of the next phase of our digital journey as we get to work with a range of creative practitioners to explore different ways of sharing Shakespeare with the world, using all forms of digital technology.”

Read more about research into Shakespeare’s New Place here.

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