Top 5 questions asked at Heritage Open Days
Last year, I worked at the 14th century Longthorpe Tower near Peterborough over the Heritage Open Days weekend. Over 1,000 people passed through the door and a lot of them asked questions, some of which we knew the answers to and some of which we didn’t. Below is a ‘top five’ from all of the queries we had.
1) Is that real?
Visitors usually value the authentic historic experience of visiting a heritage site, so they will ask if wall paintings, fixtures and fittings and handling objects are real. Try and make sure you have some idea which are and if they are replicas explain why; for example the originals may be too fragile to handle. It may be interesting for visitors to describe where the original objects are now, if you know!
2) Where is the toilet?
An important one this! Make sure you know where the nearest toilet to your site is, and if it is in a pub or café make sure you check that they are ok with you sending visitors to them. Similarly knowing where the nearest food, drink and transport links are is always helpful.
3) How long will I have to wait?
Queues to get into venues can be an issue on Heritage Open Days, and for small sites such as Longthorpe they are pretty much inevitable. We entertained people with re-enactors at the bottom of the stairs to the tower so they could get a fun experience even whilst waiting to get into the main building.
4) Can I volunteer here?
If you have a heritage site open for Heritage Open Days that takes volunteers make sure you have a way of taking people’s details when they ask this question, we got lots of people who wanted to get involved with the site following a visit during Heritage Open Days.
5) Where else nearby can we visit?
Check out the Heritage Open Days website to see what else is on around you and get hold of your local Open Days leaflets to give out to members of the public who may be interested. If possible speak to the nearby sites first so you can all promote each other! Peterborough has a Heritage Attractions Group and its members were all aware of each others events, so some visitors did nearly all of the sites over the weekend!