The Exeter Time Trail project

Exeter Time Trail is a collaboration between Gabriella Giannachi and Will Barrett from the Centre for Intermedia at the University of Exeter, Rick Lawrence, Tom Cadbury and Helen Burbage at Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery (RAMM) and Andy Chapman from 1010 Media.

The Exeter  Time Trail, funded by REACT HEIF, aims to develop an Exeter Time Trail app prototype that will allow users to generate three types of trajectories or trails in time using items and locations from RAMM’s tours in Devon:

  • Museum tours;
  • Exeter tours, based on RAMM’s Exeter Time Trail website, presenting Exeter’s history through the archaeological record and material culture of Exeter;
  • Devon tours, linked to exhibitions and encouraging the exploration of Devon’s wider heritage.

Through the app prototype, we will test how individuals and groups will create, rate and generate their own tours.

We started the project by workshopping some of our ideas with children from St David’s Church of England Primary School and their teacher Ross Sloman in the context of another project, Moor Stories, which aims to develop a creative writing tool that allows users to encounter objects in the RAMM collection on Dartmoor and annotate their experience.


The children at St David’s were brilliant at helping us to come up with some initial ideas about the app, which influenced the design of our initial wire frames (see above and below). For example, we will have school-friendly logins, which means children will not need to disclose email addresses; child-friendly sites, which can only be accessed by certain schools and will be written in child-friendly language; three possible trail-creation strategies (by theme, period, browse), which will allow children and their teachers to work creatively according to what is required in the curriculum; trail saving options, which means one class could design a trail for another, etc.


Content-wise, we will start by generating two trails, a WW2 Trail which will be created by Will Barrett, and a Tudor Trail because, following a consultation with Dave Adcock from Exeter City Council, we think this may be the most popular with schools. Dave talked us through the kind of tours that are currently offered in Exeter (see below), and is interested in testing some of our ideas for the app in relation to these existing tours.

photo (2)

We have only just started working on this project, so if you are a teacher, a child, a tourist or a keen local history expert and wish to feed back to us or test any aspect of our work, please feel free to get in touch via this blog or contact me at: We are keen to hear from you.

About Gabriella Giannachi

Gabriella Giannachi is Professor in Performance and New Media, and Director of the Centre for Intermedia at the University of Exeter, which promotes advanced interdisciplinary research in performance and the arts through collaborations between artists, academics and scientists from a range of disciplines. Her most recent and forthcoming book publications include: Virtual Theatres: an Introduction (Routledge: 2004); Performing Nature: Explorations in Ecology and the Arts, ed. with Nigel Stewart (Peter Lang: 2005); The Politics of New Media Theatre (Routledge: 2007); Performing Presence: Between the Live and the Simulated, co-authored with Nick Kaye (MUP: 2011), nominated in Theatre Library Association 44th Annual Book Awards (2012); Archaeologies of Presence, co-edited with Nick Kaye and Michael Shanks (Routledge: 2012); Performing Mixed Reality, co-authored with Steve Benford (MITP: 2011) and Archive Everything (MITP, forthcoming). She has published articles in Contemporary Theatre Review, Leonardo, Performance Research, Digital Creativity, TDR and PAJ, and developed conference papers for IVA 2009, 9th International Conference on Intelligent Virtual Agents, CHI 2008, CHI 2009 (best paper award), CHI 2012 (best paper award) and CHI 2013 (best paper award). She is an investigator in the RCUK funded Horizon Digital Economy Research Hub (2009-2014) and is collaborating with Tate and RAMM on a number of projects. She has a BA from Turin University and a PhD from Cambridge University, UK.
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