Interpretation of Conservatory Living Collection: Adelaide Botanic Garden

The Bicentennial Conservatory was constructed as part of the 1988 celebrations for Australia’s Bicentenary. It houses and displays a living collection of rainforest plants including those from tropical, sub-tropical and temperate rainforests in Australasia, the Pacific and Asia. The Conservatory collection has a focus on species that should be conserved either because they are threatened in the wild and/or are of importance to the planet.

Environmental sustainability has been an important aspect of the Conservatory since its design stage and in 2012 it was decided to stop winter heating. This decision was largely driven by the fact the Conservatory accounted for a significant amount of greenhouse gases produced by the botanic gardens which is an issue faced by many botanic gardens around the world.

ABG Interpretation

Following this change, the Adelaide Botanic Garden has commenced to re-interpret the collections in the Conservatory and has chosen to trial the use of the iBeacon. It is a new technology that can transmit interpretation to mobile devices such as iPads and iPhones when in close proximity to a beacon. Given the very high percentage of visitors are now carrying a smartphone in their pocket, it is part of a new era in visitor engagement and interaction and Adelaide is the first botanic garden in Australia to use this technology.

As a part of this, I have put together the three Trails through the Conservatory including text for each of the stops. These will enable visitors to experience the unique and visually stunning nature of a rainforest environment in the often much drier South Australian conditions, while learning about the Conservatory, rainforests and the need for conservation.

The text is not only for the iBeacons but could also be used for traditional signage or face to face interpretation.