Corvidae was founded in 2003 to bring the exhibition and web expertise of Simon Basketter and Richard Crowest to the museum and heritage sector.
Many smaller museums face challenges in creating exhibitions and web sites that are well-designed, attractive to visitors and meet the accessibility needs of a diverse audience. The fees charged by large design agencies can put their services totally out of reach, and their awareness of accessibility issues and the needs of the heritage sector is often small.
Between them, Simon and Richard have more than three decades of experience in interpretation, theatre, broadcasting, publishing, interactive media and corporate communications. They are ideally placed to offer the combination of skills museums need at a price they can afford.
Richard's career has benefited from his lifelong inability to confine his interests to one area. Following A-levels in maths and sciences, he changed direction to take an additional A-level in English Literature, then gained an honours degree in Drama from the University of Hull. That led him to become a researcher and reporter for BBC Radio Humberside, after which he moved on to run the audio arm of a corporate communication company in his native Norwich. There, his voice skills were spotted by Anglia Television, where he spent eight years as an announcer and presenter.
Richard used his spare time during those years to hone other skills: writing for BBC Radio 4; producing a pilot for a radio panel game; immersing himself in computers and the World Wide Web, and putting the knowledge he gained to use editing guide books for Jarrold Publishing.
In 1998, he decided that his skills and interests could best be combined in the area of heritage interpretation. He attended the MA course at St Mary's College, Strawberry Hill, and graduated with distinction. Since then he has worked for a wide variety of clients including the National Trust and the British Library, as well as writing exhibitions for companies such as Marks and Spencer and Amway.
The visual arts and design have always been the chief passions in Simon's life. Following a foundation course in art, he found work designing bespoke kitchens, but soon realised that he needed a career with more potential for creativity. He gained a degree in Theatre Design at the Central School of Art and Design, now part of the London Institute. Work in film and television followed, leading to two years at the National Theatre, working with directors such as Peter Hall and Nicholas Hytner and designers including Alison Chitty and Bob Crowley.
Despite his long-standing love of the Star Wars films, Simon was soon seduced by the 'dark side', and became a leading designer of conferences, exhibitions and installations in the corporate world. He created no fewer than three pavilions at Garden Festival Wales, for British Steel, Welsh Water and Hoover. He also designed and devised an award-winning interactive exhibit for the fragrance company Quest International, which explains the families of ingredients used to make scent, and records visitor reactions for future product development.
In Corvidae Limited, Simon and Richard's skills complement one another perfectly, offering a unique level of service and expertise to the museum and heritage sector.
Here are brief details of a few recent projects. For more detail, visit the Exhibitions and Interpretation page.
The National Trust - Corvidae's work for the Trust began with editing and writing copy for sections of the web site. Later, we worked with the Trust to improve the accessibility of areas such as the Trusty pages.
In 2004, Corvidae completed an interactive virtual tour of The Homewood, a 1930s modernist house designed by Patrick Gwynne and Wells Coates. The tour is being used both at the property and on the web to overcome problems of access. The tour features interpretive text that appears automatically as the visitor moves the mouse over items of interest in the virtual image. Visit the National Trust's Homewood virtual tour.
Kerridge Ridge and Ingersley Vale Countryside and Heritage Project - In 2004, Corvidae won the contract to design and create the web site for this local access project near Macclesfield in Cheshire.