A new and innovative way to explore the oral histories and audio archives of Cornwall’s museums and archives has just launched. ‘Cornish Tales’ enables users to travel through time and the Duchy, listening to stories from the archives of St Ives Archive, PK Porthcurno, Kresen Kernow, and the Cornish Music Archive.
Launched by Cornwall Museums Partnership in collaboration with Hi9, this brand-new immersive experience pushes the boundaries of smart speaker technology and enables global access to oral histories, music, and recordings – previously unavailable online. This is the first time a collaboration of cultural organisations has enabled access to audio resources in such an innovative way – and really is at the forefront of the use of this type of technology anywhere in the UK.
These stories have been curated into a new immersive and interactive narrative where users will visit ‘Memory Lane Tavern’ to hear songs, head to the bus stop for a journey through time to Porthcurno, St Ives, or Redruth, or jump to specific audio clips that they would like to hear. Over 500 variations of the experience are available, which means users can have a different experience every time or revisit their favourite parts.
Users will be able to navigate through the experience using just their voice – meaning that the experience has been designed to be as accessible as possible. Hi9’s philosophy is that their technology should be able to be used intuitively by everyone – from aged 4 to 84. The experience is also being trialled by care homes across Cornwall, in partnership with EPIC Health – a project led by the University of Plymouth’s Centre for Health Technology which has provided over 150 Amazon Echo smart speakers for care homes in Cornwall. The hope is that in future, these experiences can be used by care providers to support with reminiscence work.
Amy Shakespeare, Innovation Manager at Cornwall Museums Partnership says, “It’s really brilliant to be able to cast a light on these amazing audio archives that have previously been difficult to access. We asked ourselves tough questions about why we collect these archives if nobody can access them easily, and what could be done about it. Working collaboratively with the museum and archives, as well as our tech partner Hi9, we’ve been able to solve some of these problems and show Cornwall is leading the way with this technology that is rapidly becoming a part of many homes. On top of this, we’ve been able to work with EPIC Health and care homes to show the potential wellbeing benefits that utilising museum collections in this way can have.”
Wo King, CEO and Founder at Hi9 says, “I believe that we are going through cultural isolation in Cornwall and with the rest of the world. This summer the rest of the UK is coming back to see us but most of the world will not. This gives us a chance to share the Cornish culture with the rest of the world from the comfort of the chair using an Alexa device and with people isolated in care homes. Connecting the rich stories, voices, songs and history back to people desperate to hear it. Using AI in this way and working with CMP has been a joy for us to contribute”
Users in the UK, Ireland, US, Vietnam, Canada, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Australia can now access the Cornish Tales, from the comfort of your own home, using a smart speaker or smart phone, by downloading the Amazon Alexa app. On the app click ‘more’, then ‘skills and games’ and search for Cornish Tales. Once you’ve enabled Cornish Tales, simply say ‘Alexa, open Cornish Tales’ whenever you want to start the experience.
For more information, please get in touch with Amy Shakespeare on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01209 500750.
Notes to Editor
Cornwall Museums Partnership is an independent charitable incorporated organisation, formed in 2015 to provide leadership for Cornwall’s museums; to support them, represent them and give them a voice. We are a sector-leading charity which is not afraid to think differently. Our values of collaboration, inclusivity and innovation inform everything we do.
Our ambition is to be recognised nationally and internationally as a pioneering model of collaborative leadership which promotes innovation and resilience in the museums’ sector and beyond. We want to shift the dial in terms of the impact and value museums create. By working in partnership with museums, we want to help them to use their collections effectively to foster happy, healthy and prosperous communities where heritage is valued and celebrated. Cornwall Museums Partnership, Studio 101, Krowji, Redruth, Cornwall, TR15 3GE
Cornwall Museums Partnership receives core funding from Cornwall Council and Arts Council England.
About Kresen Kernow
The Archives and Cornish Studies Service is Cornwall’s Accredited archive service and our team of staff and volunteers deliver statutory, community and heritage outcomes. In 2019 we moved to Kresen Kernow, Redruth, which is now home to over 1.5 million books and archives, dating from 1150 to the present day. We provide specialist public services, including providing access to archives and published material, caring for the collections, supporting other archive holders, and delivering an exhibition and engagement programme. We acquire collections that represent a diverse range of individuals, organisations and events connected to Cornwall, and believe they are a rich source of inspiration for learning, skills and creativity. Through the facilities at Kresen Kernow, our digital platforms, partnerships and programmes, we aim to make a difference to people and our community. We are funded by Cornwall Council and our current programmes are supported by a generous five-year NLHF grant.
About PK Porthcurno
The coastal village of Porthcurno, located in West Cornwall, was once the heart of international telecommunications, boasting the largest telegraph station in the world. Today, PK Porthcurno is a vibrant and captivating heritage attraction that comprises of World War II tunnels, the secret hub of Britain’s wartime communications; the Cable Hut where Britain’s network of undersea telecommunication cables came ashore; exhibitions and interactive displays telling the amazing story of global telecommunications, from the first practical use of electricity to how we communicate today using fibre optic cables that still run beneath the world’s seas and oceans.
About St Ives Archive
St Ives Archive is a registered charity whose aim is to develop and maintain a local historical archive for the benefit and use of the public, covering all aspects of the history, geography, natural history, the arts, architecture and the inhabitants of the parishes of St Ives, Carbis Bay, Lelant, Halsetown and Towednack in the county of Cornwall. We began in 1996 and continue as a community activity staffed by volunteers and funded through grants from local businesses, membership, sales of publications and donations. We have collected information on every aspect of the town’s unique history, its people and neighbouring parishes. We have volunteers who have special areas of expertise. They can help with research, whether it’s a simple query or a detailed research project.