Sudbury Heritage Centre reports growing success with a feature that offers visitors individual choice of windows into the history of the town. History Shorts is based on a large, touch-sensitive, digital display screen with a library of local history topics. Choosing a subject by the touch of a button generates a sequence of illustrated slides that tell its story, usually lasting about ten minutes. Images usually win the balance between visuals and text in presentations that include the railway story, fighting fires, the Peasants’ Revolt, a Zeppelin attack and the town’s weaving industry.
History Shorts are the work of local historians and volunteer researchers enabling them to bring their work to fruition and present it to a broader public. This has encouraged access to niche, but none-the less interesting, glimpses of history such as the life of a local who fought at Waterloo and the farmworker’s son who became a Spitfire hero.
There are now seventeen presentations on the History Shorts screen, all checked and edited to a consistent format by Sudbury Museum Trust. Each addition is promoted in the local press and advertised on a broadsheet poster outside the Heritage Centre. The benefits are an increasing footfall of new visitors, as well as more returners, and the permanent availability and secure storage of the digital library. In this way the innovation ensures the continuous vitality of the whole facility.