VisitPlus unites heritage visitor sites across the whole of the UK with objects from galleries, libraries, archives, museums and beyond. Visitors can use the map to discover web pages that will enhance their visits before, during or after being on site.
The heritage visitor sites included are managed by Historic Environment Scotland, English Heritage, CADW, Northern Ireland Department of Communities, National Trust and the National Trust for Scotland. Digital objects are provided by Historic England, British Library, Historic Environment Scotland and the Portable Antiquities Scheme.
By clicking on a marker that represents a visitor site the user is presented with a popup that provides links to an array of related web pages. These pages either refer to the same visitor site, another location in the vicinity of the site or have another geographical connection. The map is therefore the beginning of a journey through the UK’s wealth of cultural heritage.
VisitPlus was first shown to focus groups that were representative of the UK public to gain feedback. A powerpoint slide encapsulated the concept by focusing on the National Trust’s and English Heritage’s visitor sites at Lindisfarne, asking the public if they would be interested in accessing connected records like the British Library’s Lindisfarne Gospels after a visit.
The reaction was positive as audiences appreciated that diverse and high quality resources were made accessible from a single point of access. The ‘VisitPlus’ branding was somewhat problematic however as audiences felt the name implied the map should only be used on-site and was an inadequate replacement for a guidebook. In short, the name obscured the broad range of use cases that were possible.
Underlying VisitPlus is a gazetteer of UK heritage visitor locations numbering in the low thousands and typically defined as of national significance. Each location acts as a nexus, an entry point to access many other collection items. Web pages were assigned coordinates in the form of latitude and longitude based on locations that they mention or represent. Connections were drawn computationally between those that were geographically close and that had similar names.