Tim Powell | Cultural Heritage. Goverment of Catalonia.


Head of the Research and Development Studio at Historic Royal Palaces in London
Tim Powell is Head of the R&D Studio at Historic Royal Palaces (HRP), the independent charity that looks after the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace, Banqueting House, Kew Palace and Hillsborough Castle.
The newly established R&D Studio comprises a small team and physical space, dedicated to developing innovative new ideas and concepts for audience engagement. The Studio operates a rolling programme of artist, creative and technologist residencies within the palaces. The focus is on developing large-scale public events and spectacles, inspired by the palaces’ spaces and stories and delivered using a combination of immersive technologies, performance and installation art.
In his previous role as Creative Producer at HRP, Tim was responsible for the “The Lost Palace Project”, a virtual tour of the lost Whitehall Palace that combined immersive audio, interactive location-based technology, architectural installations and live performance. Described by the BBC as “a really thrilling experience”, it went on to win the 2017 Museums and Heritage Award for innovation, the 2017 Europe-wide Heritage in Motion Award and the 2018 International Best in Heritage IMAGINES Award.
Other projects include Long Live Queen James!, a “Jacobean drag-show in Polari” that told the tales of King James I and his male favourites. Written by Mark Ravenhill and directed by Scottee, this show will be doing a UK festival tour following several sell-out shows at Banqueting House.
His first job at HRP was Digital Media Manager, where he was responsible for social media and online video content and campaigns. This included putting Henry VIII on Twitter, capturing an 18th century feral child on CCTV, creating the world’s oldest Facebook timeline, giving love-life advice as Charles II’s “Pimp Master General”, 3D printing Henry VIII’s crown jewels and webcasting the Tower of London’s ancient ceremonies.

Building immersive worlds for heritage audiences
Heritage attractions now operate in an experience economy, where visitors expect their time with us to be social, emotional, memorable and shareable. In response, we need to build experiences around what we want them to feel, not just what we want them to learn, and allow them to create their own meaning from our spaces and stories.
This presentation will look at a range of approaches to doing this, drawing on examples from across the creative industries. It will focus on the following five areas:
- Working in new ways with different voices: How an R&D methodology can reduce the risk of innovation and how artists can help unlock meaning for new audiences
- Narrative vs game mechanics vs world building: How choosing the right experience structure can deepen the audience’s engagement.
- Immersive technologies and invisible interfaces: How to use modern digital tools without losing the heritage magic of “stepping back in time”.
- Multi-sensory storytelling: How using non-visual senses such as touch, smell and sound can deepen immersion
- Designing for empathy: How making human connections with characters from the past can be the start of the most meaningful relationships with our audiences.