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  • Pandemonium: Telling hidden stories

    Posted on March 30, 2019

    National Trust of Tasmania (NTT) is one of the smallest National Trust organisations in Australia, yet it achieves outstanding successes with limited funding and resources. NTT is a forward-thinking, innovative organisation which ensures the National Trust frequently surprises its visitors with its creative approach.

    Once again, NTT has stepped away from traditional ‘National Trust’ interpretation by presenting Pandemonium, a world-class, multi-sensory film experience which is screened at the Penitentiary Chapel Historic Site (PCHS) in Hobart.

    Pandemonium is a fast-moving, engaging, visual and auditory feast, presenting crime and punishment stories of Tasmanian convicts.


    NTT entered into a collaborative partnership with Roar Film to develop a world-class film unlike any tourism experience that has previously been offered in Tasmania.

    Roar Film is one of Australia’s most creative and enduring production companies. They work across the digital media spectrum, with credits that span broadcast and online documentary and drama, educational content and musical theatre.

    Between 1803 and 1853, around 60,000 male convicts were sent to Van Diemen’s Land. Most of them were processed at the Hobart Penitentiary Chapel Site. Pandemonium tells their story projected 21 metres wide and 4 metres in height on the walls of John Lee Archer’s Penitentiary Chapel. You will meet a line-up of buz-coves, bit-fakers, nibblers and other motley lags in this luscious evocation of Cinerama.

    PCHS is one of the most important sites in Tasmania’s convict system and it was the intention of the project to enhance the physical and emotional experience through storytelling and technology, satisfying a diverse cross-section of visitors. This in turn would increase visitors and revenue.

    NTT applied and received a grant from the Tasmanian Community Fund and was fortunate to receive funding of $272,270. The overall cost was just under $400,000.  To construct this highly technical, audio/visual project in our historic site required a sensitive and sympathetic approach, and necessitated approval from Heritage Tasmania.  The Chapel, where the film is screened, was not an easy space to work in, with its extremely high ceilings and tiered seating.

    The project took 37 months to complete from inception to delivery.

    Category criteria

    PCHS is a magnificent heritage building in its own right, with courtrooms, gallows, chapel, cells and visual displays. NTT has pushed the boundaries of what visitors expect to see at a National Trust site with the screening of Pandemonium at PCHS.

    Pandemonium is an extraordinary and innovative film – an all-encompassing, sensory experience which transports the viewer into convict life.

    Pandemonium has attracted new visitors to PCHS who have walked away from the film with a new and inspired opinion of what a National Trust property can offer them in terms of learning about our convict past.

    We believe we have unquestionably aligned with the criteria of this category, in creatively reimagining our heritage asset and making it more accessible and relevant to today’s society.

    More pictures can be found here.

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