Department of History of Art

Wander Anywhere

Creative visiting using mobile technology

An innovative research project that combines the digital and the arts.

Wander Anywhere uses the latest mobile technology to offer users new ways to experience art, culture and history.

The Wander Anywhere app is used to enhance cultural experiences instantly in Nottingham, Thoresby, Venice and most recently the Roman town of Venta Icenorum.




Project overview

An innovative research project that combines the digital and the arts through visual art technology.

The project, which is coordinated by Horizon, aims to create a network of expertise to showcase digital technologies that can be applied to various cultural experiences and art institutions.

Developed by Horizon Digital Economy Research Institute, Wander Anywhere uses the latest mobile technology to offer users new ways to experience art, culture and history.

Staff at the School of Humanities have been working in collaboration with Horizon to provide content for the Wander Anywhere app on a number of projects.

Wander Anywhere is funded through the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Creative Economy Knowledge Project, Archives, Assets and Audiences.

The App

The free to use Wander Anywhere app was developed by Dr Ben Bedwell of the Horizon Digital Economy Research Institute, it employs GPS technologies to guide the user to locations where it downloads stories intersecting art, local history, architecture and anecdotes relevant to the spot onto the users device.

Try Wander Anywhere (free)

Engaging with arts and culture

Connected Communities and the development of Wander Anywhere

The project team

On June 21 2015 volunteers from the area around the Roman town of Venta Icenorum met at the Caistor Hall Hotel as part of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Connected Communities Festival to develop ideas for a new tour of the archaeological site that could be accessed using smart phones and tablets. The event was run by Dr Will Bowden and Dr Ben Bedwell in partnership with the Caistor Roman Project volunteer group.

Based in part around the University of Nottingham’s long-running research project, the aim of the event was to involve the local community in developing new interpretations of the Roman town. The team investigated what information people wanted about the site and asked them about the ways in which it could be delivered to them.

Led by Theresa Caruana, the team trialled a draft tour accessed through Wander Anywhere.  The team found that in practice the mobile network was too intermittent to use Wander Anywhere to its full capacity and so an alternative version is now being created that will allow people to download information in advance and then have it triggered in their devices by their GPS position. The participants also worked on creating Aestheticodes, which are a means of embedding computer codes in patterns and pictures, which can then be scanned with a smart phone to activate web-based content. They function in the same way as QR codes but can be hidden in pictures. Led by Liz Jeal, the team experimented with creating codes using the designs of Roman and Iceni coins, Roman helmets and any Roman-themed image the participants could think of.

Finally, the team walked the entire Roman town, and generated some great ideas for the content that people wanted on a tour. It came across very strongly that location-sensitive information really feeds into people’s desires to know what was found at a particular spot and what literally lies under their feet as they walk around a site.


EM15 at Venice Biennale 'Hidden Stories of Venice'

This year the team (which includes Dr Gaby Neher from the History of Art department and Matt Davies from the Digital Humanities Centre) have worked in partnership with EM15 at the Venice Biennale festival. Visitors to the East Midlands’ debut art exhibition at the festival use the app to uncover the hidden stories behind one of Italy’s most iconic cities.

Gaby used her extensive knowledge to provide an original and comprehensive narrative and sense of space. Matt Davies contributed to the narrative and lead on the image search.

In addition to using the app to enhance their experience, visitors can also perform ‘selfie’ related tasks designed by the artists and researchers. They can then share their task on either Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #EM15Venice.


Wander Thoresby

In 2013 the team collaborated with the Stonebridge Trust to develop Wander Thoresby. The exhibition ran from 2 August to 26 August 2013. It centred on the artwork of Countess Manvers, many pieces only recently discovered in the family’s private collection. 

Matt and Gaby produced high-quality digital copies of the Countess’ largely unexplored works, in preparation for more sustained research into the works themselves.

By digitising these works they allowed the earlier watercolours (which were too delicate to display) be accessible to the public. The Wander Anywhere app allowed visitors to have an interactive experience whilst viewing the art and estate of Thoresby by digitally guiding them through the Countess’ works.

Countess Manvers’ works offer a unique insight into the world of a landed estate during and after the Second World War. Her works chronicle, in often painstaking detail, what she sees around her. Some of the most striking works are tinged with a melancholy resignation to a lost world slipping away. They are wonderfully accessible and human pieces of considerable charm. For Wandering Thoresby, we are using Countess Manvers’ own work to open up a new way of looking at an important country estate.


Dr Gabriele Neher, History of Art


Art in Your Park

In September 2013 the Wander Anywhere app was used in collaboration with the Art in Your Park month long event. Art in Your Park transformed Nottingham’s Highfields park into an outdoor contemporary art gallery.

Art in Your Park utilised the revolutionary Wander Anywhere app to enhance the experience. Users were able to view virtual artworks that had been ‘geotagged’ to link with the real-world artworks throughout the exhibition.

Art in Your Park was created by DHC Leonardo Fellow and local artist Theresa Caruana, in association with WW Gallery, London, the DHC and Dr Gaby Neher at the University of Nottingham.





Department of History of Art

University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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