As the world around us continues to see advancements in technology almost every day, a big topic of discussion at history conferences has become how museums and historic sites can incorporate these new technologies into tours and interpretive approaches. In our effort to remain one of the premier historical destinations in Massachusetts and the country, Lexington Historical Society has been exploring a variety of ways to keep our history accessible for everyone. Over the years we’ve instituted films, audio clips and even full-fledged audio tours (available at Buckman Tavern in eight languages) as a way to make sure visitors are able to access Lexington’s rich Revolutionary War history through a method of interpretation that best suits their needs.
Over the past few months Lexington Historical Society has begun exploring how 3D virtual tour technology might provide a new avenue for visitors to experience historic Lexington. After a suggestion by a board member about partnering with Mass 3D Spaces, a local company that “specializes in creating immersive 3D interactive tours (powered by Matterport)”; LHS Executive Director, Erica McAvoy, and myself sat down with Scott and Siobhan Loftus-Reid to discuss how the Matterport technology they use for real estate tours might assist in making Lexington’s history more accessible to a nationwide audience. After chatting with Siobhan and Scott about the technology and the passion they shared with Lexington Historical Society for sharing Lexington’s unique history the decision was made to move forward and work together on this project.
With the assistance of a collection of re-enactors and volunteers, Lexington Historical Society staff along with Siobhan and Scott have been meeting at Lexington Historical Society’s three historic houses and filming inside each location. During each photo shoot, we have been able to stage actors in our historic rooms to represent the historic people, periods and aspects of each house’s unique history. We’ve been able to capture the panic of Aunt Lydia and Dorothy Quincy as they prepare to flee from the Hancock-Clarke House as well as the calming moments spent by Lexington’s militia in Buckman Tavern as they await the arrival of the British Regulars. Once the sites have been photographed and the tours prepared by Siobhan and Scott, Lexington Historical Society staff and our Interpretation Committee members are able to highlight artifacts, embed audio and video clips which will allow visitors to gain a better understanding of what happened at each location.
Once completed, the project will allow schools nationwide who are unable to make the pilgrimage to Lexington to experience what it would be like to walk through these historic houses. These virtual tours will also allow visitors with physical limitations the ability to access the second floors of our historic homes and not miss out on any content discussed during that portion of the tours.
So far, we’ve been able to complete filming at the Hancock-Clarke House as well as Buckman Tavern with Munroe Tavern’s shoot being scheduled for later in the spring. Stay tuned!
-Chris Kauffman, Education and Interpretation Manager