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Academics help museum go back to the future – University of Reading

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Academics help museum go back to the future

Release Date 17 August 2005

Although they are perhaps not the most obvious academic partners, the University of Reading's History and Cybernetics Departments are collaborating on a unique project to develop a state-of-the-art interactive visitor centre at the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum in Chichester, Sussex. The museum, whose outstanding collections are designated by the government as being of national importance, is home to nearly 50 historic English buildings dating from the 13th to the 19th century. This new and innovative 'Knowledge Transfer Partnership' between The University of Reading and the Weald and Downland will consolidate its position in the premier league of museums in the country. The main goal of the project is to create a sophisticated 'visitor orientation gallery' at the museum, using the latest interactive technology to supply visitors with the most up-to-date research and historical information relating to the museum's collections. Two graduates from the University – one from History and one from Cybernetics – will work on the project, which is due to be completed in 2007. The historian will collate the historical data, whilst the cyberneticist will work on the technological innovations. The Reading graduates will be supervised by Dr Will Browne, of the Department of Cybernetics, and Dr Margaret Yates, of the School of History. "This is one of the most exciting projects I've ever worked on," said Dr Yates. "Firstly, it demonstrates history's ongoing relevance in the world of work. Secondly, it proves that, with a bit of creative thought, academics from different disciplines can work together to come up with stimulating new ideas." Richard Harris, Director of the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum, said: "We are delighted to be working with The University of Reading. It is our hope that the University's renowned research expertise will help us to share with our visitors the importance and diversity of our collections and site." Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) are of great benefit to all involved. They aim to improve the competitiveness of the company partner, enhance the career of the graduate and increase the business relevance of the University. This KTP is being funded by the Department for Trade & Industry (DTI) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). End Notes for editors 1. The University's Knowledge Transfer Centre is one of the most successful in the country, with 44 projects helping small and medium-sized companies access knowledge and skills within the University. For more information, visit the website: 2. For further information about the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum, please visit the website: 3. For media enquiries only, please contact either: -Craig Hillsley, the University of Reading's press officer: Tel: 0118 378 7388 Email: -Cathy Clark, the Weald & Downland Open Air Museum's marketing officer: Tel: 01243 811 363 Email:

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