Retail boost and global interest in Chester’s citywide museum trail

Retail boost and global interest in Chester’s citywide museum trail

International cities have contacted organisers of Chester’s groundbreaking Hoot’s Route museum trail in a bid to replicate the event overseas.

Hoot’s Route – believed to be the world’s first curated citywide museum – is part of Chester Unlocked, led by the city centre’s Business Improvement District, CH1ChesterBID, and Chester-based social enterprise Big Heritage.

“Hoot’s Route has certainly captured the public imagination, but it also seems to have caught the attention of cities across the world,” said Dean Paton, Managing Director of Big Heritage. “We’ve had calls from city officials in Europe and the United States asking if we can deliver a similar programme overseas.”

“Through Hoot’s Route we’ve been able to unearth hidden treasures from Chester’s past and share them in our retail outlets with visitors from across the world,” added Emily Ghazarian, Events Manager of CH1ChesterBID. “The museum trail has proved incredibly popular. We’ve distributed some 10,000 maps and we’ve had to re-stock maps in plenty of retailers several times already! What’s great is that the feedback from local people and visitors has been overwhelmingly positive.”

Early feedback from retailers reveals that 91% reported increased footfall into their stores due to Hoot’s Route, with some 74% reporting customers were spending more time in store. Another 90% also said the trail had encouraged different types of people, in particular more families and tourists, to visit their stores.

Such is the appeal of the Hoot’s Route trail the city’s Blue and Green Badge Tour guides have also integrated it into their tour programme for 2015.

Hoot’s Route runs until the end of the year and 29 retailers are already displaying artefacts from Chester’s past as micro-museums. New displays will be added throughout the year, including a special new addition in Chester Town Hall due to be announced soon.

Using a specially designed “Hoot’s Route” museum trail map – available online or in-store at participating businesses in the CH1ChesterBID area – the citywide trail allows people of all ages to discover and enjoy some of Chester’s historic treasures.

A fluffy stuffed toy Hoot can also be spotted standing guard close to each of the artefacts, so young children are encouraged to get involved in finding each of the owls tucked away in the stores taking part.

“Hoot” of Hoot’s Route was inspired by an owl sitting on the shoulder of the Roman goddess Minerva, which is carved into a 2,000-year-old shrine in an old Roman quarry wall by the River Dee near Chester city centre.

For more details about Hoot’s Route, people can visit the Chester Unlocked website