Launch of augmented reality project is set to bring new life to the Bodleian Library

Apr 04 2017

Oxford is one of twelve of England’s historic cities which have collaborated to develop an innovative augmented reality (AR) product that is set to bring heritage to life. The ground-breaking new AR experience launched on March 31st to celebrate English Tourism Week. It consists of an app and videos that transports the user back in time to unveil the hidden lives of some of history’s most fascinating characters at the Bodleian Library.

The premise of the app is to capture significant historic moments in time whilst providing tourists the opportunity to explore England’s most historic cities. It uses cutting-edge technology to give the historical moments a fresh perspective and make history’s fascinating characters come to life. It is set to transform the Bodleian Library’s appeal by introducing it to a new, more technologically motivated and younger audience. It also hopes to encourage return visitors by offering the opportunity to experience an attraction in a different way. In a rapidly changing and competitive tourist environment, the use of AR technology will offer a point of difference that will attract visitors and showcase the best of the city.

In Oxford, the AR experience enables visitors to be guided through the Bodleian Library’s by past its first librarian, Thomas James. Through his stories, visitors will be able to get a rare look into the hidden lives of Oxford scholars throughout the ages including Oscar Wilde and Sir Thomas Bodley – the founder of the Bodleian Library. Visitors will also be able to see how student life today compares with the lives of students who studied in the Bodleian 400 years ago as well as seeing some of the fascinating things that have remained the same over the centuries.

Richard Ovenden, the Bodleian’s Librarian said: ‘We are delighted to have the opportunity for Oxford to be one of England’s Heritage Cities. The augmented reality experience that this app offers will allow visitors to explore areas of the Bodleian Library that are usually only accessible to scholars and readers. We hope it will give members of the public a way to compare their own library experiences to those of Oxford scholars over the past 400 years and to appreciate the work that goes on behind the scenes at the Library.’

Experience Oxfordshire worked with the English Heritage Cities ‎Consortium to secure funding through the Discover England Fund for this AR project. Being involved in this innovative project was a great opportunity for Experience Oxfordshire to further enhance the counties outstanding profile. Leading the project in Oxford, Experience Oxfordshire were delighted that their partner the Bodleian Library were also a part of this, as the Heritage Partner for the city.

Hayley Beer-Gamage, Chief Executive at Experience Oxfordshire, commented: ‘This is a really innovative way to bring the 400 year old Bodleian Library, one of the city’s most iconic buildings, to life through cutting edge digital innovation. We hope this attracts a younger audience to the city so they can experience the Bodleian Library, and Oxford’s many other attractions, at first hand’.

Nicola Said, Head of Digital and Funding at Marketing Cheshire, who has delivered the project on behalf of the Heritage Cities, said: ‘This is one of the most exciting tourism products on the market – a true marrying of old and new and a completely innovative way to inspire an increasingly digital world to take a step back into the past. I cannot wait to see the app in action and watch people from all around the world take pleasure in England’s glorious, captivating history. It will enable all the cities in question to be able to reach new audiences and showcase the iconic cultural heritage we have to offer.’

England’s Heritage Cities cover the length and breadth of England, from Canterbury to Durham and Salisbury to Carlisle. They offer diverse experiences and all of them are well-connected via rail, making it easy for tourists to travel to more than one at a time.

The app ‘England’s Historic Cities’ is available to download for free in google play and on the app store or at

The exciting new project is one of a number of projects to benefit from the £40 million Discover England Fund – a central government funded programme of activity administered by VisitEngland supported by match-funding from private and public partners.


Notes to editors:

Experience Oxfordshire is the Destination Management Organisation (DMO) for Oxfordshire. We are a not-for-profit partnership organisation committed to the promotion, management and development of Oxfordshire as a great destination to live, work, visit and do business. We have a growing partnership network of businesses spanning all parts of the visitor economy, and through effective collaboration, we are all working to ensure Oxfordshire becomes a leading destination for tourism, culture and business.

About the Discover England Fund

• In November 2015, the Government announced a £40 million Discover England Fund; an unprecedented opportunity for English tourism. The Fund aims to deliver world-class bookable tourism products joined up across geographies and/or themes; including integrated transport solutions to provide an end-to-end customer experience.
• The Fund supports the growth of one of England’s most successful export industries, inbound tourism. England has seen record tourism spend in the past year from both domestic and international visitors delivering economic growth and jobs across all the English regions.
• The Fund will support a number of projects and pilots in year one (2016/17) to test and develop product development approaches and a small number of large-scale collaborative projects that create a step-change in bookable English tourism product for international consumers (in years two and three – 2017-19). A smaller funding pot for new one year projects and pilots, and continuation funding for existing round one projects that can demonstrate early learnings will also be available.

About VisitBritain/VisitEngland

• VisitBritain/VisitEngland is the national tourism agency – a non-departmental public body funded by the Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS)
• Working with a wide range of partners in both the UK and overseas, our mission is to grow the volume and value of inbound tourism across the nations and regions of Britain and to develop world-class English tourism product to support our growth aspirations. For further information and to access the latest in-depth market intelligence and statistics visit or and for consumer information.

About England’s Heritage Cities

• England’s Heritage Cities is a consortium of cities who work together principally focused on marketing, lobbying and research. The consortium includes the destination management organisations representing Bath, Cambridge, Carlisle, Chester, Durham, Greenwich, Lancaster, Lincoln, Oxford, Salisbury, Stratford-upon-Avon and York. More information is available on
To download the England’s Historic Cities app, follow the below links:
App Store:
Google Play:

For more information contact:

Kathryn Manning
Phone: 01865 686434
Email: /