Who is this project for?

The Courts of the Crystal Palace were supposed to attract many different audiences. Following this philosophy, we designed the model and the archive to attract a variety of key audiences and worked with representatives from each group throughout the project. To find out more about each group, click on the links below.

  1. University Undergraduates & Lecturers looking for an intellectually challenging medium through which to explore Pompeian painting, Roman houses and Victorian modes of display.
  2. Teachers & School Students needing an accessible and free interactive teaching resource for use in key areas of the History curriculum.
  3. Learning Technologists experimenting with and evaluating the teaching and learning possibilities of emerging technologies.
  4. Researchers requiring access to a full, reliable database contextualised and notated by an expert.
  5. Local Community & Heritage Sector desiring full access to and the means for innovative and engaging interaction with historical material relating to the Sydenham Palace site.

Further information on each of the above can be found in the following sections.

Undergraduates & Lecturers

The model could be very useful for university students of Classics, Art and Architectural History, Nineteenth Century History and Museum Studies as both a research and learning resource. Here are some ways in which we would use the model with Classics students at Bristol:

  • as a navigable database of Pompeian frescoes, allowing students to familiarise themselves with details of their subject matter, style and original location.
  • as an opportunity for students to experience the spatial effects of encountering art in Roman space and the effect these surroundings have on the viewer’s assessment of the art.
  • as an introduction to discussions of how ancient art has been displayed in museum settings to a modern (in this case Victorian) audience.
  • as an opportunity to assess the ethics and processes of reconstruction, through physical engagement with the act of reconstruction, to reflect on it both as a conceptual and manufactured process and as a finished product specifically of Victorian England or of 21st Century digital technology.

Throughout this year, we’ll be working with a focus group of volunteer students from Bristol to assess the benefits of the Model in exploring these different topics. But we’ll also be working closely with the national Subject Centre for History, Classics and Archaeology in order to share our findings.

Teachers & School Students

Whilst we hope that school students of all ages might be interested in our Model, we will be focusing on students at Key Stage 2 and GCSE. The National Curriculum for History suggests that children aged between 7-11 study relevant themes such as The Romans, Victorian Britain and Local History. We’ll be designing learning activities within the Model to entertain and engage students studying these themes. One of the aims of Key Stage 2 History is for students to consider how the past can be represented and interpreted in different ways. Throughout the National Curriculum, students are encouraged to use different ICT tools. Meanwhile, students following either the AQA or OCR syllabus for GCSE Classical Civilisation take modules on Pompeii and on Roman Social/Family Life (to view the specifications of both these GCSEs see:



We’re looking for volunteer Key Stage 2 and GCSE classes from schools, ideally one in Bristol and one in Sydenham, to help us evaluate how well the learning activities built into the Model engage the students and how easy the Model is to navigate.

In order to include many more schools than we can visit individually, we’ll also be using this website to launch a nationwide competition, inviting students to design a contribution to our Model in whatever media they choose (e.g. video, audio, visual or written material). The best entries will be put on display in the Model and on our website.

Learning Technologists

There have been many recent experiments in the role of virtual reality in education. We have learnt a lot about the possibilities of our own Model from the work of other projects and hope the findings of our project will be useful to others. We hope that our experience of the development and evaluation of interface techniques within Second Life will feed into wider research being conducted into virtual reality, visualisations and media rich online multi-user environments as well as specifically into the application of the possibilities of this technology in the Arts & Humanities.

In order to engage with this audience, we’ll be attending professional events throughout the year. Part of our involvement with JISC involves sharing our ideas with other funded projects.

Community & Heritage Sector

Quite rightly, many people in South London are very interested in the Crystal Palace and there are currently discussions underway as to how the Crystal Palace Park should be revamped. We’ll be talking with local community groups, to see how people would like the Model to represent the Palace. We’ll also be liaising with local institutions and societies, such as the Crystal Palace Foundation and the Joseph Paxton Society.

In more general terms our Model may also be of interest to museums seeking new ways to engage visitors on site and online.

Here are some comments from people we met at the Crystal Palace Arts Fetsival:

‘Great idea, as I had a similar idea myself with all of the Palace to be visited virtually. Keep going and well done.’

‘Great display – when can we see the other courts?’

‘A highly evocative and fascinating project.’

‘Wow! This is fantastic. Well done!’


In the last few years, there has been an enormous swell of interest in the way that the ancient world has been presented to the public and the way it was understood by past audiences, particularly the Victorians. See, for instance, books such as Coates & Seydl, Recovering Antiquity (2007) and conferences such as Exhibiting Antiquity Birkbeck (2008). At the same time, there has been a growth of interest in the nineteenth century international exhibitions, a European and American phenomenon of which the Crystal Palace is an important part. See, for instance, World’s Fairs, Expositions and Current Museum Research (2005).

By providing the first full reconstruction of the Pompeii Court collection along with the archive of supporting materials, the project makes available to these research communities previously obscure archive material. We hope this material will help place the Crystal Palace back at the centre of investigations into studies of exhibition, collecting practices and classical receptions in the nineteenth century, and will broaden our understanding of the place and perception of Classics in the nineteenth century.


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