Hastings Contemporary made headlines during the first national lockdown in 2020 when we began using a telepresence robot to run robot tours, offering a chance to visit the gallery remotely. Passengers on the tours were able to join a member of gallery staff to see The Age of Turmoil and Anne Ryan’s Garden of Earthly Delites as well as Sir Quentin Blake’s mural The Taxi Driver. In 2021 we have shared Stephen Chambers’s The Court of Redonda, Sir Quentin’s We Live in Worrying Times and Lakwena’s Homeplace with visitors.

Hastings Contemporary Robot Tours featured in BBC News, The New York Times, The Guardian, The Art Newspaper, and the Daily Mail.

The telepresence robot, developed by Double Robotics, is an innovative tool that helps arts organisations such as Hastings Contemporary work to overcome barriers of isolation and exclusion. We are delighted that, with the robot, we can give visitors an opportunity to experience the gallery in a new way. We believe that the robot also helps to provide an insight into the lived experiences of disabled people in a creative and collaborative manner.

We are grateful to Esther Fox, Hastings Contemporary Trustee and researcher on the D4D project as part of her role as Head of the Accentuate Programme, and to Praminda Caleb-Solly, Professor for Assistive Robotics and Intelligent Health Technologies at  Bristol Robotics Laboratory, for their practical and technical facilitation of this project. We are also grateful to Hastings Contemporary Trustee Nicholas Maclean for the considerable help he has given with the tours.



We are excited to announce we have now secured funds through the Accentuate Programme to offer Robot Tours to groups and individuals in the local area who may be unable to travel to the gallery. The tours will provide the opportunity for people to visit exhibitions from the comfort of their home or community centre, reducing accessibility issues, logistical hurdles and Covid-19 concerns.

During the Covid-19 lockdowns, Hastings Contemporary pioneered the use of telepresence robot technology to provide gallery tours for audiences to visit the gallery remotely, from the safety and comfort of their own homes. Now, in partnership with the Accentuate Programme and Robotics For Good C.I.C., we want to take these tours one step further and reach out to those who continue to face difficulties visiting exhibitions and provide creative activities as well as tours. We will facilitate eight sessions for those who identify as disabled and/or have long term health conditions, to come together via the robot, to take part in a gallery tour followed by artist led creative sessions. You just need access to a laptop or mobile phone with internet connection and we will explain the rest!

Upcoming dates:
Tuesday 19th July

For more information or to book a tour please email: visits@hastingscontemporary.org or telephone the gallery on 01424 728377.

You can sign up for multiple sessions as each session will have a different creative activity. Please also let us know if you might have any access requirements to be able to fully participate in the online tour and activity.

Comments from some of our robot tour passengers:

“Unfortunately we are unable to visit Hastings – or anywhere – at the moment, so it is really lovely to have a tour. It was very interesting and informative.”

“Many thanks once again for an excellent experience. I can really see the benefit of this type of tour, beyond the pandemic, for people who are unable to attend the gallery for whatever reason. I certainly wouldn’t have seen this exhibition otherwise. I look forward to visiting in the future.”

“Thank you. A lovely tour by Suzy, giving her personal insights. Also the background info on Stephen Chambers & his working methods was fascinating. Please continue these robot tours.”

“I would just like to say how very much I enjoyed the tour. So lovely to go “out” and “with” my daughter! I was very impressed with the design of the gallery and your commentary was so interesting and I loved the Quentin Blake.  I do hope that sometime in the future I will be able to visit the gallery in person.”

“I really enjoyed the tour, as did my sons, and it gave us plenty to talk about. I thought Laura was a great presenter and the tour was aimed well at young kids. Thank you so much for doing this. It made a refreshing, albeit still educational, break from home schooling.” 

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