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The Painted Hall, Old Royal Naval College

Designed in the early 18th century by Sir James Thornhill, the Painted Hall, Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich, features more than 3,700 square metres of Baroque walls and ceilings. These surfaces are covered in striking images depicting 200 figures including kings, queens and mythological creatures.

What we did

What was required

As part of their award-winning conservation and restoration project, The Old Royal Naval College invited ATS to help them bring James Thornhill’s epic painting closer to the viewer, complete with detailed interpretation of the complex painted scenes of gods, monarchs, seafaring and complex allegory.

Using the extensive research into the site – along with fresh perspectives– we created a multimedia guide to The Painted Hall that allows visitors to see the paintings in detail, either following a set tour of the interior or through a random–access plan of the ceiling. And it also allows them to unpack some of the symbolism that’s featured in the painted scheme.

Part of the challenge for this project was delivering a multimedia guide for a site that was also a live conservation project. Hard-hat interviews, filmed with experts high up on the conservation scaffold, allow visitors to get up close to the paintings with a personal guide. And new high–resolution photography of the completed restoration gives the experience an added dimension.

Our Creative Solution

Creating a heads-up experience for visitors required designing a tour that achieved the right balance of audio and multimedia content. Binaural (3D) soundscapes create an authentic atmosphere for visitors as they marvel at the artwork and interiors.

Our design team solved the challenge of identifying the many painted characters with a custom flippable ceiling map and hot spots – allowing visitors to explore the vast ceiling and pick out features more easily.

ATS carried out user testing with access and working groups during the design stages, the multimedia tour will be available in multiple languages including British Sign Language, plus a specialist Audio Described tour which was written by Vocal Eyes and produced by ATS.

Together with the on-site interpretation, the multimedia guides create a seamless visitor experience that’s as intriguing as it is awe-inspiring.

Like what you see?

What They Said

“We are thrilled that, for the first time, people can get up close to this magnificent Baroque interior. Zooming in our Painted Hall ceiling in ultra-high-resolution reveals details you can’t see from the ground – fire breathing serpents, glistening jewels and bubble blowing cherubs. With this new tool everyone can appreciate not only the mastery of Thornhill’s brushwork but also the incredible quality of the conservation works recently carried out. It’s like a scaffolding tour but with your feet firmly on the ground!”

Claire Kirk, Old Royal Naval College.

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