institution: Stowe House Preservation Trust
category: Exhibition Media or Experience
Avoiding the Wrecking Ball: About Stowe House
Stowe House in Buckinghamshire, UK, is a unique building of significant historical and architectural importance. Once a grand house belonging to one of the the wealthiest and most influential families in England, Stowe has been home to a prestigious private school since 1929.
The multimedia guide that Stowe House Preservation Trust produced with media partner, Antenna International, follows a three-act structure following the extraordinary rising fortunes of the Temple Grenville family in the mid 18th century, through to its ignominious fall a hundred years later, and its final, last-minute reprieve from the wrecking ball to become a progressive boarding school.
A self-guided in-gallery House Tour
Following an extensive restoration project, visitors coming to Stowe were able to be self-guided along a route through the house. For the adult tour we chose an Oxford historian, specialised in Enlightenment history, to guide the visitors through the complex and fascinating world of the Temple Grenvilles – a political and social powerhouse that counted no fewer than three Prime Ministers in its family.
Filming on Location
Filming at Stowe (itself a famous and recognisable location for period feature films), we made fourteen short introductory films to each main room. These films build a sense of the building’s grandeur, reveal the architectural design, and give a flavour of the once sumptuous interiors.
Restoration & Preservation Features
Layers exploring further details on the political and social history of the times give more detailed context to understand the lives of this important family. Features on restoration and preservation give an idea of the immense scale of the work involved and the artisan crafts that Stowe is helping to preserve.
Stop-action and 2-D paper animations in the Family Tour
The family tour was a particular creative endeavour, involving imagined conversations between a writer and a visual artist. Stop-action and 2-D paper animations feature some of their creative responses to the architecture and history. They take a playful look at the characters who built, and eventually broke, Stowe.
Inspiring artistic and playful activities
The concept was designed to be inspirational, encouraging young people to feel energised and creatively engaged with their surroundings. It sparks discussion about the ways in which the house might inspire artistic and playful activities both in the house and back home. Combined with group games and time-travelling characters, the family tour inspires, entertains, and informs young minds.