Mixing live footage and animation, the films, ‘These Walls Can Talk’, have been produced to tell the complicated history of the Museum’s buildings and the people who built, lived and worked in them, going back more than five centuries.
Using an Arts Council Emergency Response Fund grant, awarded during the pandemic to help venues consider different ways to reach audiences, the Museum worked with local creative professionals. These included a filmmaker/producer, an animator, a CGI artist, a drone cameraman, a voice artist, plus a British Sign Language (BSL) signer and translator to ensure the films are accessible for those with hearing impairment.
Evelyn Palmer, Public Programming Manager at Maidstone Museum who led on the project said:
“We are absolutely thrilled with the four short films and have really enjoyed working with everyone involved to produce them. The project has created greater virtual access to the museum, which is essential whilst coronavirus distancing measures are in place.
“Aside from enabling the local community to visit us virtually, they allow teachers to familiarise themselves with the museum in advance of visits, and are particularly useful for Special Educational Needs groups.
“In addition, the films provide access to those visitors unable to visit all the galleries once inside the museum; the historic buildings have many changes of level and despite lifts, two galleries are still inaccessible to those less able. Each film also has a BSL and subtitled version, providing access to hearing-impaired viewers.
“The character of ‘Lady Chilly’, the spirit of Chillington Manor and a somewhat bossy and rather nosy lady, works so well as a narrator of the films. She’s perfect for the role; after all, she has been watching the goings-on for centuries and would never approve of them all!”
Paul Harper, Chairman of the Economic, Regeneration and Leisure Committee at Maidstone Borough Council added:
“The films are each around six minutes long, welcoming people to the museum in a different and entertaining way and one which will make a difference to accessibility for years beyond the current situation.
“They are able to reach local, national and international communities, connect with existing and new audiences, and remove geographic and physical barriers to enable more people to enjoy a visit, whether virtual or real.I would recommend this as a great way to enjoy the Museum and I am planning to spend the dark evenings watching them."
The films are available on the museum website at: https://museum.maidstone.gov.uk/these-walls-can-talk/
Or through the council YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ykyudzbSLSo&feature=youtu.be
They are also downloadable onto mobile devices for virtual visits. They will also be onscreen inside the museum, running on a loop until touchscreen choices can be made after COVID precautions are eased.
The four films ‘These walls can talk’ covers the medieval to Victorian period and are available with or without British Sign Language.
Episode 1 is 13-16th century
Episode 2 is 17-18th century
Episode 3 is Victorian expansion 1850-1901
Episode 4 is 1901 to the present day.