Fort Nelson at the Royal Armouries

AV and Interactive Technology Enhances the Big Guns
Fareham, UK

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Electrosonic installed the audio-visual and interactive systems to support both the site and individual exhibits at Fort Nelson, home to the Royal Armouries’ national collection of artillery and historic cannon since 1995. The museum design was by Haley Sharpe and exhibit fabrication by Antomic Woodworking.

Fort Nelson

Built in the second-half of the 19th century as a response to a perceived threat from the French, Fort Nelson is situated on Portsdown Hill overlooking England’s Portsmouth Harbour. From 2010 to 2011, it experienced major redevelopment supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. A new gallery now showcases 14 of its most famous exhibits with AV support from Electrosonic.

Museum director Peter Armstrong says, “The new-look museum is proving a major hit with the public, and we’ve experienced a major boost to visitor figures since the launch, thanks to the new galleries, visitor facilities, education centre, and displays”.

Medieval Wall Smasher

Ramparts, underground tunnels and magazines lead to old barrack areas that house the exhibits, and lead to the new galleries. The new “Voice of the Guns” gallery features the Great Turkish Bombard, a medieval wall smasher from 1464, whose display includes a short video sequence on an LCD monitor built into the caption panel. The same AV treatment is applied to showcase a German 10.5 cm light field howitzer from 1918 and two anti-aircraft guns used to defend Britain’s south coast during World War II.

Iraqi Supergun

The most infamous contemporary armament exhibit is devoted to the Iraqi Supergun. Two sections of the barrel are on display, supported by a big panel sporting a 46-inch LCD monitor, describing how the gun was supposed to work and the role of its designer, Gerald Bull.

Map Table

A pair of interactive exhibits takes the form of clean-lined, wood-framed map tables. Featuring overhead projectors provided by Electrosonic, the tables play sequences triggered by visitors who push buttons on a panel in front of them to discover how and why Fort Nelson was built.

Recruiting Sergeant Comes to Life

Another display appears to show a black-and-white photograph of a Victorian-era recruiting sergeant in a gilt frame. At intervals he comes to life in full color and delivers a dynamic pep talk about joining the Queen’s Army.

The redevelopment project, including refurbishment of existing facilities, the new galleries, education centre and a new visitors’ centre with café, opened in August 2011.