Echoes of the Explosion

2017, Digital/Online, History, Maritime Museum of the Atlantic
app, audio content, character tour, Halifax, Halifax explosion, history, locative, logo, mobile, neighbourhood, new media, tour
About This Project

Date: Soft launch June 6, 2017; Official launch December 6, 2017

Partner: Maritime Museum of the Atlantic

Venue: Maritime Museum of the Atlantic and Halifax Waterfront – map

Project Members: Shanlon Gilbert and Brenna Pladsen


Echoes of the Explosion brings cultural heritage outside the museum walls through self-guided audio tours. We hope to reveal a hidden layer of the cityscape through retelling the history of specific places on-site. While our composite characters are fictional, they borrow firsthand recollections and return them to their original sites. Echoes of the Explosion blends storytelling and new media to create a unique experience that reframes the physical landscape. These intimate appeals to personal connection will engage visitors with the experiences of a place, encouraging locals to re-engage with the familiar and offering tourists unique experience of a key moment in Halifax’s history.


Listen to an audio clip from the production. Follow Honora, a Victoria Cross Nurse, and Issac, a soldier with the 25th Battalion. They’ll show you around their Halifax, and the fateful morning of December 6, 1917.


The music is Amor e ódio by Nuno Adelaida, used under an Attribution-ShareAlike License.


Echoes of the Explosion is designed to appeal to people who want a non-traditional engagement with history. They range from local history buffs to cruise-ship passengers on day trips in the city. Each of the Echoes appeals to a slightly different audience, and we have guides for military historians, morbid tourists, and families.


Echoes of the Explosion engages directly with downtown Halifax. The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic and its permanent Halifax Explosion exhibit anchors for self-guided walking tours of the area. We engage with the history of the neighbourhood on-site, using the physical landscape to help visitors see into the past.


The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic has been an arm’s length partner on this project. They have provided editorial and research support as well as access to their photographic archive.


Echoes of the Explosion launches on the centennial of the Halifax Explosion, December 6, 2017 at 9:05 am. Tours are available from June 6, 2017 onwards. Research and initial concepts for the project began in 2016.


While Echoes of the Explosion is on the history of Halifax, it moves outside the usual modes of presentation to explore the new possibilities afforded by technologies. Echoes of the Explosion blends traditional interpretation tools; for example, 1st person history interpretation, audio guides, and city tours, and blends them with locative capabilities afford by mobile technology to reframe the built landscape. Physical landscapes are imprinted with their histories and are inscribed with the experiences of the people who pass through. Echoes of the Explosion looks to engage the particularity of a space and enhance the embodied experience of place by providing a multi-sensory augmented reality.


We held two fundraisers during the school year; a card sale in December and a bake sale during April. In addition to raising the capital for our first round of recording, these events acted as informal promotion, raising Echoes of the Explosion‘s profile amongst the Faculty of Information, especially amongst people with a connection to the Maritimes. Shanlon Gilbert also presented at the 2017 iSchool student conference on the media theory and interpretive strategies used in Echoes of the Explosion. Each release date will be preceded by a social media and physical marketing campaign and the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic will promote Echoes of the Explosion at relevant events such as Tuesday Tunes.


Echoes of the Explosion is a hybrid museological, audio, and new media project. We can draw metrics of success from many disciplines; number of downloads, number of plays per tour, reviews from tourists sites, art and new media journalism, and citation in academic writing. Immediate metrics of success include positive user feedback on content and 300 downloads over the summer. We hope to develop a framework for evaluating new media projects in a cultural heritage context. Ultimately, the success of Echoes of the Explosion will be measured in its longevity; we hope the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic will consider Echoes of the Explosion a valuable extension to their Halifax Explosion materials and it will be used as an active part of their programming for many years.


Thanks to the Museum Studies program; especially Dr. Matthew Brower for his support realizing Echoes of the Explosion and Dr. Costis Dallas, for overseeing the conception of the project and facilitated our theoretical explorations. We would also like to thank Dr. Roger Marsters, and Jenny Nodelman from the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic.