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Blog 23: Virtual Tour of Crystal Palace in Hyde Park

Blog 23: Virtual Tour of Crystal Palace in Hyde Park

For the first time in 169 years, visitors can take a 360 tour around The Crystal Palace, the venue of the formidable 1851 Great Exhibition held in Hyde Park – but this time without leaving your home

Ledy Leyssen, Head of Learning at The Royal Parks, said: “The Great Exhibition opened on 1st May 1851 in London’s Hyde Park to showcase the arts, science and technology of the day, yet nothing remains of the structure now. So, 169 years later we’ve harnessed today’s technology to bring the Royal Parks’ heritage to life, uncovering the park’s past for everyone to enjoy, especially those who aren’t able to visit in person.”

Seymour & Lerhn invited organisations to put forward proposals for a virtual reality education resource. The Royal Parks, the charity which manages London’s eight Royal Parks, suggested ‘The Crystal Palace’ and was the winning entry. The prize was to partner with the virtual reality company, ‘Seymour & Lerhn’ and together they created the first virtual tour of the historic building, on location in Hyde Park.

Once you are inside the tour (link below) you can click on yellow dots on the map to view different virtual scenes of the Exhibition Hall.

The Royal Parks have collaborated with science presenter Fran Scott who discusses one of her great passions, the Great Exhibition, along with expert Angela Kenny, an archivist from the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 in a walk-through of the virtual tour of the extraordinary building, in a fascinating 30-minute documentary
Virtual depiction of Osler's crystal fountain

The building was regenerated digitally using The Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851’s archive of plans and images, as well as The Royal Parks’ historical documents such as old maps.

The Crystal Palace was a marvel of its time when it opened in Hyde Park on May 1st 1851, showcased to more than six million people. It was an enormous structure constructed from glass and cast iron, measuring around 563m by 138m, and 39m high. The giant building hosted the thousands of global exhibits of The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations, the brainchild of Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, to celebrate the industrial technology and design of the Victorian age.
!/perch/resources/blog-23d-w420.png(The Indian exhibit with a stuffed elephant (Dickenson print))!

Now, 169 years since the exhibition opened, visitors can step back in time and explore the building once again, using their phone, tablet or PC. A combination of CGI and 360 photography which overlays the historic building onto the present-day site, allows visitors to switch between then and now. Users can marvel at the huge scale of the site. People can discover intriguing stories as they navigate: you can find out about the first ever public toilets and the lady who walked from Cornwall to attend, becoming a celebrity in the process.

The Royal Parks will seek funding to further develop the project by populating The Crystal Palace with the artifacts of The Great Exhibition.
German exhibit

Charlie Power, Head Honcho, Seymour & Lerhn, said: “The Great Exhibition of 1851 ‘Crystal Palace’ was a truly incredible feat of engineering, and we’re delighted to see it brought to life on its 169th anniversary! With the lockdown continuing, the virtual tour offers a unique way for people to ‘get out of the house’ and explore the history hidden within Hyde Park – all without actually having to leave their homes.”

There is an excellent YouTube link lasting 30 minutes guiding you around The Exhibition Hall with accompanying interesting historical detail:

Guide around Exhibition Hall

The Royal Parks’ web site allows you to access the tour free and enjoy the footage of the tour:

Great Exhibition Virtual Tour from Royal Parks

For many weeks the blogs were written for us by technical officers, Russell Stevens (Kensington Gardens) and Patrick Markey Bell (Hyde Park). They chose their subjects, did the research and sometimes took the photos. Gradually the blogs have become more and more sophisticated as our membership secretary, Lynden Easton, has managed to improve the layout and include more photos.

Sue Price

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