Beyond Kirkgate: Immersive storytelling and the future of museum experiences

A hackathon hosted by the York Castle Museum in partnership with the University of York and the University of Glasgow 

We invite you to join us in exploring the future of immersive experiences in museums.
This year marks the 80th anniversary of the opening of York Castle Museum.  In 1938 the Castle Museum was a revolution in museum practice.  At its heart is founder Dr John Kirk’s vision for collections in context: Kirkgate, a Victorian street created from the museum’s vast collection of objects from daily life.  Kirkgate defined the concept of the immersive museum experience.  Its impact continues to be felt eight decades later. 
York Castle Museum is embarking on a major redevelopment campaign.  A part of that process is asking the questions: ‘What is the next step in immersive museum experiences beyond Kirkgate?’ and 'What is the future of the immersive museum in light of emerging forms of digital media and storytelling?'  This event brings together participants from a broad range of practice around this core question to create prototypes and proof-of-concept designs for what an immersive, narratively rich museum experience mixing digital and analogue might look like.  We will focus on the evocative, iron-barred cells of the York Gaol, embedded deep within the museum, as a space for telling stories about those who passed through this place. 

Why you should attend 
This is an exciting opportunity to work with creative people from a broad range of disciplines.  We are inviting artists, archaeologists, writers, coders, curators, historians, game developers, musicians, and more to join together for a weekend of hands-on creative work set within a world-class museum and working with their collections. 
There will be concept development and feedback sessions with experts to help you create something exciting. There is also the possibility for ongoing support and development of a successful prototype created during the hackathon. 
The Wider Project 
Beyond Kirkgate is part of the AHRC-funded Within the Walls of York Gaol project which seeks to develop sustainable, narratively-rich immersive experiences in Museums – focusing on the former debtors’ prison at York Castle Museum.  The core team are the same people who created the award-winning Viking VR immersive experience.  

Partners include: 

  • York Castle Museum 
  • University of Glasgow, Department of Archaeology 
  • University of York, Department of Theatre, Film, and Television 
  • AHRC 
  • Digital Creativity Labs 


  • July 19, 4 - 6pm Informal meet & greet/Groups begin to form. Drinks after. 
  • July 20, 9am - 5pm Official first day.  Groups work on their visions. 
  • July 21, 9am - 4pm Work continues.  Presentations and discussion on future development at the end of the day. 

Interested in attending? 
Places are limited, so if you're interested in attending or would like further information, get in touch with Anthony Masinton at

York Castle Museum, YO1 9RY