21st Century Treasure Map App in Milton Keynes

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Based on the fact that the average UK adult believes they live more than 5 miles from the nearest cultural artefact – such as public artwork, a monument or a site of historic interest.  MK Council has launched a free app to help residents and visitors locate 50 locally hidden gems from a ‘tree cathedral’ to a 1,000-year-old moot (meeting place) and a flood plain nature reserve.

National research [1] on behalf of Milton Keynes Council suggests we may be unaware of what is in our own back yard.  In fact, the average UK adult believes there are no cultural artefacts within 5 miles of their home – an area equivalent to almost 20 square miles and larger than the built-up area of towns like Swindon or Ipswich.  One individual guessed that the nearest cultural artefact was 160 miles away.

Based on public data from leading national tourism groups and The National Recording Project (NRP), the UK is home to more than 10,000 sites of national cultural interest [2] which doesn’t even reflect the total number of historical sites, listed buildings and public artwork at a local level.

A third of those in the study say they have never visited any local cultural artefacts – artwork, historic sites or buildings, or beauty spots.  Those in the North East are most likely to have visited local treasures (74%) where as people living in the South West are less inclined (64%).

When questioned on the closest cultural landmark to home, over a quarter of people think of the local theatre (26%), woodlands, parks or natural beauty spots (16%) monuments (15%), architecture (14%) followed by sculptures and other public artwork.  More than one in ten respondents could not think of any landmarks close to home.

A new and free to access app has been launched in Milton Keynes to encourage residents and visitors to explore hidden local gems.  Locations such as an idyllic tree cathedral, a 1,000-year-old moot, a peace pagoda (the first one to be built in the western world) and a flood plain crawling with wildlife are all within 4 minutes travel of well-trodden city areas.  With almost a thousand public sites and artefacts across Milton Keynes, visitors are unlikely to ever be further than 100m from the nearest.

The Discovering MK smartphone app encourages users to discover more about Milton Keynes.  Partly inspired by the Pokémon Go craze, the app reveals an interactive trail of 50 locations around the city.   At each point along the trail, users can unlock information about the landmark, take a mini quiz and upload a selfie to show where they are.

Developed by Arts & Heritage Alliance MK and MK21, the free app is available via Google Play and Apple Store.  It was developed to commemorate Milton Keynes’ 50th Anniversary and celebrates the unique and diverse city, which has 220 pieces of public art, 22 million trees and shrubs, 180 miles of dedicated bridleways, footpaths and cycle tracks and more shoreline than Jersey.  This project has been supported with funding from Heritage Lottery Fund, MK Community Foundation, MK Council and Santander Cycles MK.

[1] Representative omnibus polling of 2,205 UK adults via Censuswide between 28th and 31st July 2017.

[2] Estimate based purely on publicly available data from English Heritage, The National Trust, Visit England and The National Recording Project (NRP) online database – August, 2017

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