Visitors at Enchanged Palace

Kensington Palace, London

Natasha Woollard, 15.03.2012
During the £12m building project to transform Kensington Palace over 2010-2012, we took the opportunity to experiment with our visitor experience. The interim Enchanted Palace exhibition not only attracted new audiences, but also transformed our staff.

We recognised that the support and engagement of the front-of-house team was crucial to the success of Enchanted Palace, and so utilised their expertise and knowledge from the outset.

A demanding training programme of theatrical techniques and storytelling was delivered by theatre partner Wildworks.

This turned traditional warders into engaging explainers and the previously functional admissions team into animated welcome hosts, resulting in increased confidence, new skills and a dynamic visitor experience.

Enchanted Palace did not provide an audio guide; instead visitors were encouraged to ask explainers about Kensington's history and so enter into dialogue and exchange, rather than the didactic and passive experience that heritage usually offers.

The result was that front-of-house staff owned Enchanted Place, explained it, defended it, and relished the interaction with visitors.

Their enthusiastic comments said it all:

“I’ve told more history in the past three months than in the last three years"

“I can never go back to standing in a room, bored”

Enchanted Palace has now closed, but by transforming the people as well as the building, we have created a dynamic and empowering front-of-house culture, which will be driving the new Kensington Palace visitor experience, opening on 26 March.

Natasha Woollard is the visitor experience manager at Kensington Palace

Links

Kensington Palace

Peter the Wild Boy (Enchanted Palace blog)

Enchanted Palace game

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