Westonbirt Arboretum

A touchscreen mosaic, RFID technology and a questionnaire interactive help visitors understand more about trees and the natural landscape at The National Arboretum.
The Forestry Commission’s new Biffa Award Welcome Building at Westonbirt Arboretum was opened on 24th June 2014. It features the Christopher Mitchell Information Centre, packed full of fun and useful information about the arboretum. Wide Sky Design were part of a production team put together by Outside Studios, designers of the interpretation in the new building. The project was kindly supported by a number of charitable trusts, organisations and individuals including the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Biffa Award.

Touch-screen mosaic – Our evolving landscape

Visitors can explore the Westonbirt site through a 32” touch-screen exhibit designed as a zoomable mosaic. Each square on a grid presents a feature from a specific area of the arboretum such as an arcade of trees. Within each grid square there are nine smaller squares, each displaying videos, text and imagery to illustrate and explain that feature. The display can deliver over 4000 individual squares each with photos, video and text.

The mosaic is database-driven so it can be updated by the client. For the visitor, it provides inspiration for a starting point for their exploration of the arboretum.
RFID exhibit – the Cycle of Life

This exhibit uses RFID technology to explain the lifecycle of tree at Westonbirt. Visitors learn more about how and why the arboretum’s team of specialists care for each tree from the initial planting to its maturity and eventual decline.

The RFID technology allows visitors to place one of a number of objects in front of the exhibit’s screen which will then display information about the decisions and actions that are needed at a particular point in a tree’s life cycle to ensure that it has a long and healthy life.
Questionnaire interactive – What would you do?

Visitors are presented with a number of scenarios and questions and asked, what would you do? After answering the question they are presented with a video that explains more about the situation. The questions are asked again to give the visitor the chance to change their answer depending on how the additional detail that they have learned has improved their understanding.

The data from the responses is used to reflect those answers back to the visitor in the context of answers given by other previous users of the exhibit.

Another effective interactive way to help visitors understand more about how Westonbirt works and for the arboretum to monitor how their educational objectives are being achieved.