Heineken® Transforms Historical Irish Pubs Into Museums, Spotlighting The Need For Their Preservation

Virtual experiences inform pub enthusiasts about the pubs’ historic features, using AR technology to preserve their past.

Irish pubs are globally recognized cultural icons, and significant pieces of local history, many of which treasure priceless stories and valuable heirlooms. Pubs continue to play a fundamental role in the communities they serve, and their heritage deserves to be preserved to safeguard both their history and their communities. To help showcase these pubs’ value and importance, Heineken® has opened virtual Pub Museums across Ireland.

For this innovative campaign, conceived by creative agency LePub and Publicis Dublin, each pub taking part in the initiative has been transformed into a virtual museum, including historical artefacts, audio guides, and even souvenirs. A plaque at the entrance of each pub reads “This pub is a museum”, welcoming its visitors. By scanning a QR code placed on the plaque, pub customers are transported into a virtual experience, discovering the history of each pub. An augmented reality overlay tells stories and local legends about each pub, recreating exactly the experience of being in a traditional museum.

The experience started on April 4th in the iconic Toners Pub in Dublin with a launch event with local celebrities and influencers and has expanded to Sean’s Bar in Athlone and Mother Macs Public House in Limerick. The Pub Museum in Sean’s Bar, which is believed to be the oldest pub in Ireland and possibly the world, allowed users to discover the legendary history of the pub, shrouded in mystery and supported by archaeological evidence.

Seamless for the users, the tech behind the experience was created by combining complex elements to achieve what is an AR-navigable museum. Indoor navigation alongside the pubs geolocation has been paired with training a model to recognize ancient objects present in the spaces. Each artefact was left untouched, instead being turned into a digital 3D object recognizable at 360° through tracking, built with the use of photogrammetry. Users can visit the pubs with their mobile phones, moving among virtual objects to discover their history, an immersive experience where technological complexity results in ease of use.

The campaign aims to safeguard pubs for generations to come protecting the ”home of socializing”, as being an official museum would provide pubs with the opportunities and resources usually reserved for other cultural landmarks. Heineken® is exploring how these pubs can apply for official museum accreditation via a national accreditation program in a bid to have them formally recognized as museums.

Rachael Crawley, Senior Brand Manager, Heineken® Ireland:

“This year and beyond, Heineken® Ireland is doubling down on our commitment to the pub trade. As loyal partners to pubs across the country, we’re thrilled to launch our Pub Museums initiative. It’s not just about celebrating the past; it’s about reminding everyone how Irish pubs are woven into the very fabric of our society. Utilizing the best tech development and pubs already steeped in history, the idea came to life, and along with our agency partners, we are delighted to be the first market to bring this concept to life.”

Bruno Bertelli, Global CEO of LePub and CCO of Publicis Worldwide:

“Nothing reminds us of socialization more than a pub, and it is terrible to see that many survived for hundreds of years and are now experiencing financial difficulties. With this creative idea and clever technology, we wanted to highlight the historical and cultural value of these fantastic places. Thanks to augmented reality, we turned pubs into real museums, making them eligible for financial benefits from public institutions. An innovative and engaging experience that every person can live with their smartphone and that reminds us how important pubs are for many communities.”

Gerry Farrell, Dublin Based Historian:

“Few buildings or businesses maintain the same function over the span of centuries. A visit to a historic public house is a connection back to our own past. It’s important to protect and preserve our historic pubs so that they can continue to be enjoyed for generations to come.”

Gina O’Kelly, Irish Museums Association Director:

“One of the most interesting aspects of collections is the stories they tell. Objects found within commercial environments, such as our heritage bars and shops, often provide fascinating insights into the daily lives of those from our recent past and their environment. Within the Irish Museums Association, we work with many community or volunteer-led organizations that hold collections of this nature and have a deep appreciation of the significance of the objects they hold, particularly within their communities. Efforts to enhance their preservation, interpretation, and display – thereby making them more publicly accessible – acknowledge their importance and are warmly welcomed.”

The Pub Museums campaign complements the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland’s bid for UNESCO to formally recognize traditional pubs as key elements of Ireland’s intangible cultural heritage, highlighting the pub’s role in local traditions and history.

Source: LePub

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