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STEAM Museum virtual tour attracts national recognition

Swindon’s STEAM Museum has been ranked among the UK’s top five best 360-degree virtual tour experiences by industry experts Museum Crush – ahead of the world-renowned National Gallery, British Museum, Stonehenge and the Black Country Museum to name a few.

Published: Wednesday, 13th May 2020

The accolade awarded last week featured STEAM’s virtual tour as the fourth best in the UK, closely behind The Pitt Rivers Museum Oxford, The Royal Naval College Greenwich and Westminster Abbey that visitors could take at home. Museum Crush praised STEAM’s additional home-schooling resources and interactive games ingeniously embedded into the tour.

Since the launch of STEAM’s virtual tour, the number of visitors to the STEAM Museum website has increased by almost 300 per cent with more than 5,800 people having already logged on to take a tour of the museum.

The museum is also seeing significant increases in engagement and followers on its social media channels.

The virtual tour has been well received, and a number of people have been in touch to congratulate STEAM on the new digital experience. Eight-year-old Matthew Donnelly and three-year-old Joshua Donnelly jointly wrote: “Well done on the museum tour online. I really loved it as I have been missing visiting. I most liked the video moving the 2818 train.”

Mary Ellen Donnelly, mum of Matthew and Joshua, also gave her feedback. She wrote: “We have done a few online tours and the STEAM Museum is the best so far. Matthew has been doing a project on steam trains and we have visited a lot, he has had to do some colouring and he could go to the engine to find the colours. He also enjoyed the word-searches.”

Frances Yeo, STEAM Museum Manager said: “I’m absolutely delighted the hard work of my team in developing this fantastic new virtual experience has been recognised and online visitors now have the opportunity to ‘visit’ STEAM while we are closed. The addition of this superb virtual tour is an exciting new experience for Swindon residents and fans of the GWR worldwide.”

Councillor Dale Heenan, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member responsible for STEAM, said: “I am really pleased Matthew and Joshua enjoyed the new virtual tour. Their feedback is exactly the sort of positive reaction we were hoping to receive when we opened the museum’s doors in this innovative way.

“The Council is focused on supporting residents during these challenging times and I’m so pleased the museum is able to play its part by making our collections so engaging during the current lockdown.”

The Swindon Borough Council-owned museum, which is currently closed to the public, teamed up with Swindon-based Cognica Limited to develop the high-resolution virtual tour that utilises the company’s new Insite360 platform to offer free virtual 360-degree tours of its popular exhibits.

STEAM’s Virtual Tour can be accessed through the museum’s website:

The virtual tour offers an immersive excursion of Brunel’s famous Museum. Online visitors can explore the fascinating galleries, see iconic GWR locomotives and memorabilia.

An assortment of learning resources and activities are also available on the virtual tour and on STEAM’s ‘Museum From Home’ webpage. These include printable colouring pages, home-learning activities, online jigsaw puzzles, quizzes and games.

Museum Crush, which made the award is part of Culture24, is a not-for-profit digital cultural organisation funded by Arts Council England, dedicated to sharing the many curious and compelling objects found in museum collections, galleries and heritage sites.

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