As National Parks across the UK celebrate 70 years since the 1949 Act of Parliament that established the family of UK National Parks, Northumberland National Park has launched an exciting new interactive exhibition at The Sill: National Landscape Discovery Centre.
Curated in-house by the Park’s team of experts, the temporary exhibit, titled ‘Yours Since 1949’, celebrates 70 years since a piece of legislation recognised the value these special places have for everyone. The exhibition explores why National Parks were created, the important work they do now and gathers members of the public’s thoughts on their future.
Designed to make the work of the National Park accessible to all, the exhibition features a number of interactive elements such as digital story maps, a 3D holographic archive of archaeological artefacts and a thrilling virtual reality flying experience where visitors can experience Northumberland National Park from a bird’s eye view.
Visitors will also have the opportunity to view a specially commissioned short film from Campaign for National Parks which is narrated by actress Caroline Quentin, as well as watch a brand new animated short film from Gateshead-based, Arcus Animation Studios. With something for visitors of all ages to enjoy, even the youngest Sill guests can get hands-on with experiential activities including fancy dress, soft shapes and light play.
“We’re incredibly proud of what we have created with the ‘Yours Since 1949’ exhibit,” said Sarah Burn, head of activities and exhibitions at Northumberland National Park Authority.
“We wanted to create something which would tell the story of our National Park and celebrate its history, but that would also explore how people will play a part in the Park’s future. It is a truly accessible exhibition, utilising innovative digital technologies in order to bring our heritage to life for visitors to The Sill.”
One of 15 National Parks located across the country, Northumberland National Park has been hailed as the ‘last great wilderness’ with its 405 square mile expanse boasting some of the cleanest rivers in England, some of Europe’s darkest starry night skies and a wide variety of rare flora and fauna. It has thousands of years of history and culture to be explored, the rolling landscape is also home to some of the county’s finest scheduled ancient monuments, including Hadrian’s Wall UNESCO World Heritage Site.
“We’re delighted to be working with Campaign for National Parks in celebrating the 70th Anniversary with this very special exhibition in a truly world-class location at The Sill,” said Tony Gates, chief executive at Northumberland National Park Authority.
“Our National Parks give so much to the nation and we should never take them for granted.
“National Park status is the highest form of landscape protection in the UK with our remit as custodians encompassing all aspects of conservation and protection of our open spaces and wildlife, to areas of special scientific and historic interest.
“Our National Parks are important to supporting people’s health and wellbeing and contributing to the local and rural economy. In Northumberland alone, the National Park helped to attract more than 1.4 million visitors to the region in 2018, successfully contributing over £140 million to the local economy.
“As well as taking a look back at everything which has already been achieved, the exhibition looks to the future of National Parks and encourages visitors to have their say in how we should shape our focus to create a future-proof landscape for generations to enjoy.”
Corinne Pluchino, chief executive of Campaign for National Parks, the only independent national charity dedicated to protect and promote the National Parks of England and Wales, said: “We are truly honoured to be part of the exhibit. It’s a special time for the National Parks and fantastic to celebrate the foresight of those incredible campaigners 70 years ago.
“What’s so special is that the exhibit not only looks back at an astonishing historical achievement, but also looks forward to what the future holds for Northumberland and all the National Parks.”
‘Yours since 1949’ is open to the public now and will be on display in The Stell temporary exhibition space at The Sill until October 2019.
The Sill is the UK’s first dedicated National Landscape Discovery Centre and the result of a pioneering partnership between Northumberland National Park Authority, YHA (England and Wales), and funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund through a £7.8 million grant made possible by National Lottery players.
Named after the nearby Great Whin Sill, the multi award-winning Centre is home to fixed and temporary exhibition spaces, an onsite café and an adjoining YHA youth hostel. It also features learning and event spaces, a rural business hub, a gift shop packed with locally-sourced goods and produce as well as a world-first, fully accessible Whin Sill Grassland roof.