As businesses and communities close their doors due to COVID-19, a major movement has taken place to create digital content that can be enjoyed in the comfort of your own home. This topic is constantly being covered in news articles as well as an online course regarding museum leadership in which I’m currently enrolled. Museums and historical sites have been forced to rethink the ways we interpret our collections, archives, and historic sites. Lexington Historical Society staff has been hard at work since we closed our offices in March creating ways to share our wonderful collections and knowledge with our community and those around the world. One aspect of our digital content had already been started over a year and a half ago when I began working with Scott and Siobhan Loftus-Reid of Mass 3D Spaces.
I first met with Scott and Siobhan after a suggestion by a board member to partner with Mass 3D Spaces, a local company that “specializes in creating immersive 3D interactive tours (powered by Matterport)." LHS Executive Director Erica McAvoy and I sat down with Scott and Siobhan to discuss how the Matterport technology they use for virtual 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 reenactors and volunteers, Historical Society staff along with Siobhan and Scott have been meeting at our 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, the calm moments spent by Lexington’s militia in Buckman Tavern as they await the arrival of the British Regulars, and the chaotic scene at Munroe Tavern when British Regulars occupied the building for a portion of the afternoon on April 19, 1775. Once the three historic sites were photographed, I’ve been able to work with Siobhan to highlight artifacts and embed audio and video clips which will allow visitors to gain a better understanding of what happened at each location.
The original goal of the project was to 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. It was also to allow visitors with physical limitations the ability to access the second floors of our historic homes and enjoy content discussed during that portion of the tours. I had envisioned the entire project being launched in May (peak field trip season). However due to the current situation, the decision was made for us to release the tours earlier. Now everyone who would normally be coming to visit can access the historic houses from the comfort of their own homes. So far, the Buckman Tavern and Hancock-Clarke House tours are available (for free!) with the tour of Munroe Tavern set to be released in the coming weeks.
I don’t think I will ever be able to thank Scott and Siobhan enough for their work on this project. Siobhan has been a huge help as I worked my way through selecting artifact images, audio clips, and video clips. She has been ever-patient and quick to reply as text and formatting edits are sent to her almost daily (I’m sure she’s getting tired of seeing my name pop up in her inbox, haha). I’d also like to thank Siobhan’s daughter, Saoirse, for working so patiently with two amateurs during the video shoot for the introductory video she filmed, edited, and created for the project. See below for an introduction video from myself and Siobhan.
I’d also be remiss if I didn’t thank my co-workers and Society volunteers for helping select artifacts and suggesting edits of the tours - your fresh eyes on the project were a huge help!
Finally, thank you to our visitors for their curiosity and passion for learning about Lexington and the history that Lexington Historical Society has to share. Without your curiosity and passion for interacting with our history, this project would never have been undertaken.
-Chris Kauffman, Education and Interpretation Manager
Featuring the voices of Lexington Historical Society permanent staff and occasional guest authors.