Heritage sites in the 21st century: Virtual tours and digital artefacts, an online example

Jennifer Munday, Alison Watts, Eileen Clark, Tim Crutchett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Former asylums are often significant heritage sites for their architecture and what they can tell us about mental health care practices. One example is the historic Mayday Hills asylum in Beechworth, Victoria, Australia. Built in Italianate style and set in extensive grounds, it is under National Trust protection for its heritage and historical significance. In this article, we outline the creation of a pilot online virtual tour of Mayday Hills and the nearby Beechworth Cemetery. We used curation as a methodology, informed by the concept of crystallisation. Innovative digital imagery was crafted through drone footage and virtual technology. The website includes narratives and reminiscences from former staff and others associated with the institution, along with a blog written by the research team. Maydayhills.org.au demonstrates the feasibility of using virtual technology to depict how mental illness was once treated in Australia. The website is available to anyone unable to travel to Beechworth and to enrich the experience of those visiting in person. This online digital space is now essential for the preservation of history, memories and material culture given that many original buildings are being repurposed. It complements the built and natural environment of Mayday Hills asylum and Beechworth Cemetery.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)586-596
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Heritage Studies
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2024


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