Imperial War Museum Duxford wins prestigious national award for new heritage trail

A member of the Historic Duxford access panel tests out the heritage trail interpretation with Kay C

A member of the Historic Duxford access panel tests out the heritage trail interpretation with Kay Cooper, IWM Duxford’s access champion - Credit: Archant

Imperial War Museum Duxford has won an award for its Historic Duxford heritage trail.

The facility won the Access Planning and User Engagement Award at the Jodi Awards 2013 for the.

The Jodi Awards, granted by the Jodi Mattes Trust, reward excellence in the use of digital media to widen participation of disabled people in museums, galleries, libraries, archives and heritage sites.

Chris Owen, National Museum Wales web manager and one of the judges, said: “The standard of entries this year was extremely high.

“IWM Duxford’s user-engagement in the planning and testing process for the Historic Duxford trail could well be regarded as a benchmark for the heritage sector.”

Historic Duxford tells Duxford’s own story and the personal stories of the men and women who worked and served here throughout its time as a busy RAF fighter base.

The heritage trail accompanies and supports the exhibition, guiding visitors around the historic site. Eight interactive trail points feature audio memories from veterans who worked at RAF Duxford.

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The integration of accessible and interactive content throughout the heritage trail enables visitors, disabled and non-disabled, to connect and achieve a deeper engagement with RAF Duxford’s rich history. Veterans’ reminiscences, together with audio descriptions, archive photographs and soundscapes, bring to life the historical importance of these locations for all visitors.

Transcripts of the audio descriptions are available in standard and large print. Deaf and hearing impaired visitors are supported by induction loops on the trail and also through evocative visual aspects, particularly the ‘window to the past’.

A historic photograph is placed in the precise location where it was taken and displayed on a transparent pane so that the image lines up exactly with the location in its contemporary setting.

A hand-held version of the photograph is available for visitors who cannot use the fixed photographic pane.

In the exhibition, visitors are immersed in RAF Duxford’s past through sound, film and a wide range of innovative interactives and hands-on objects. The multi-sensory experience in the Historic Duxford exhibition includes a bespoke audio tour for visually impaired visitors and British Sign Language (BSL) interpretation.

A fascinating scale-model of RAF Duxford presents, through projection, sound and evocative smells, a typical day at the airfield, from sunrise through the working day to rest and relaxation in the evening. This model includes BSL interpretation. There are also BSL interpretations of veteran interviews and BSL summaries of the text on the graphic panels to be found throughout the exhibition.

IWM Duxford takes an inclusive approach to display development, applying solutions which meet the needs of disabled visitors and thereby creating the most engaging exhibition displays for everyone.

The accessible content for the heritage trail and the exhibition was created in consultation with an access panel comprising representatives from a range of disability support organisations. IWM Duxford worked with a range of companies and peer organisations, all of whom were supportive of its access aims, to bring this project to fruition.

The stories of RAF Duxford’s men and women, and their individual experiences of life at this famous fighter base, are now told in ways that empower all of our visitors to participate in their cultural heritage together.

Richard Ashton, director of IWM Duxford, said: “I am delighted that we have won the Jodi Award for our new Historic Duxford heritage trail. My congratulations and thanks go to the IWM team and our dedicated Access Panel.

“Winning this award is a fantastic testament to their skill and dedication.

“I hope that this accolade will encourage disabled and non-disabled visitors to experience Historic Duxford and to find out more about our fascinating past and remarkable people.”