Digital Landscapes

Northumberland National Park is launching an exciting new digital exhibition at The Sill: National Landscape Discovery Centre this summer.

Open from 2 July to 30 September, ‘Digital Landscapes’ is an innovative exhibition and events programme showcasing how digital technology can be used to help gain a deeper understanding and enjoyment of landscape and the natural world.

Using pioneering interactive technologies such as augmented and virtual reality and photogrammetry, the exhibition will bring treasures of the National Park to life for visitors, making Northumberland’s wild and beautiful landscapes accessible to all.

“You don’t have to be tech savvy to enjoy the digital technologies on display in our exhibition, our staff and volunteers will bring the natural world to life in front of your eyes, accessing a new world at the touch of a button,” said Rosie Thomas, director of business development at Northumberland National Park Authority.

The exhibition showcases the benefits that new technologies, 3D modelling, drone surveys and digital mapping have had on tourism and leisure and for land management and conservation.

Designed to coincide with the Great Exhibition of the North’s innovation theme, the exhibition will be divided into three main sections and explore the concepts of ‘Digital for Adventure’, ‘Digital for Learning’ and ‘Digital for Conservation’.

Digital for Adventure will use immersive virtual reality to enable visitors to explore hidden areas of the National Park through newly-commissioned, interactive 360-degree films.

The ultra-high definition films will transport visitors to ancient hill forts and beautiful hay meadows offering new perspectives and making these typically hard to reach areas of Northumberland National Park accessible to everyone.

Digital for Learning will use augmented reality and pioneering photogrammetry to create detailed, 3D virtual museum showcasing archaeological finds from within the National Park and artefacts from Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums. Visitors can also get hands-on and play in an augmented reality topographic sandbox to create their own landscapes.

The final section of the exhibition, Digital for Conservation will explore how the National Park uses digital technology to aid conservation and showcase how the Park’s own data collection and mapping tools allow the Authority to care for our unique landscape. Visitors will be invited to contribute directly to our mapping systems and discover how data guides the work carried out within the National Park.

visitors centre in Northumberland National Park

Digital Landscapes will be supplemented by a series of exciting public events, full listings for which will be announced in June. There will also be opportunities for local businesses to get involved either through collaboration, sponsorship or one of the events, as well as a number of workshops held at the start and end of the exhibition programme aimed directly at working with local schools.

“We have engaged with digital specialists from across the country to enable us to bring our Digital Landscapes project to life for visitors to The Sill,” said Dr Sarah Glynn, head of visitor development and engagement.

“When we opened The Sill in July last year, one of our key ambitions was to utilise the Centre as a hub for landscape exploration and a gateway for people of all ages and abilities to come and enjoy the stunning scenery and rich heritage and culture of Northumberland.

“Through this exhibition, we will not only have opened up the National Park to the masses, but the entire world through the power of technology. That is something we are extremely proud of and we can’t wait to share it with the public.”

Named after the nearby Great Whin Sill, The Sill is the result of an innovative partnership between Northumberland National Park Authority, YHA (England & Wales) and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) through a £7.8 million grant made possible by National Lottery players.

Featuring fixed and temporary exhibitions, learning and event spaces, a 90-seater café, YHA accommodation, a gift shop packed with locally-sourced gifts and produce as well as a world-first, fully accessible Whin Sill Grassland roof, The Sill provides the perfect location for people to explore and enjoy some of the region’s most spectacular unspoilt scenery.