Museums have a huge amount of objects behind the scenes in their stores. They are getting better at opening up collections stores as the sector comes to realise that improving access is necessary if we are to make the most of our “hidden” objects and attract new audiences. It is also useful to show the public just how many things museums have to look after and how expensive it can be to store everything.
In this blog post we take a quick look at what’s working for places like Leeds Discovery Centre, Jersey Heritage and other collections stores around the UK and pull out some useful example and tips. You will find this helpful if you are considering different ways to open up your own museum stores. But first for a bit of background let’s take a look at what the Department of Culture Media and Sports (DCMS) Culture White Paper had to say about their vision for the future of museum storage…
Along with ministries of culture and cultural institutions from all 28 countries in the European Union, plus Norway, the United Kingdom has collaborated with digital culture platform Europeana to contribute to a unique collection of 300 artworks that have helped define Europe’s art history.
Collections Trust are pleased to announce the keynote for this years' conference: Who needs digitised collections?
Marco de Niet, Director of the Digital Heritage Netherlands Foundation (DEN) will be speaking about the Netherlands Digital Heritage Strategy. He describes this ever evolving strategy as always in beta.
Written by Kevin Bacon, Royal Pavilion & Museums (RPM), Brighton & Hove
Guest blogger Kevin, in his second blog, takes an indepth look at metadata in context of the upgrade of their digital asset management system. The work is taking place as the museums consider moving to charitable trust and in response to changes in the way they do business. Read the first one here.
We are currently half way through a series of six Arts Council England funded workshops considering how user-focused approaches to collection management can make museums more sustainable. In this blog we talk about what is involved in the workshops and some tools you can use in your own museum. These include a collections management framework and a look at reviewing significance.
Written By Natalie James
Nothing expresses the panic around managing digital assets more than the statement ‘daily, you will have more than you did yesterday’. With regard to digitised museum collections there has been a lot of nervousness about why you would digitise, how you do it and what you do with it once you’ve got a digital version of your collection. The recent ‘Digital Isn’t Different’ workshops Collections Trust ran in Bristol & Manchester set out to demystify basic digitisation of collections and management of the mountains of supporting information around them.
Guest blogger Kevin Bacon, from the Royal Pavilion & Museums (RPM), Brighton & Hove will be writing a series of blogs tracking the upgrade of the digital asset management system for the Museums. The work is taking place as the museums consider moving to charitable trust and in response to changes in the way they do business.
The EU project EEXCESS addresses new methods for providing information on the internet. The motto reads: “Take the content to the user, not the user to the content!”
The EEXCESS technologies serve as recommendation tools for your online activities. Using the tools as an online user you can receive personally tailored recommendations from cultural and scientific databases without having to explicitly search for this content.
EEXCESS tools integrate into your ongoing working process so you don´t have to leave the website you are currently reading or the content management system you are currently editing.
The first of two guest blogs from Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, Emma Pybus, Corporate Communications Officer, talks about their new collections site that enables users to dive through a myriad of interesting objects from their collection in a new and simple way. In this guest blog post she introduces the site and reaction they’ve had so far.
Natalie James gives her overview of Culture24 ‘Let’s Get Real’ Conference.
The Culture24 ‘Let’s Get Real’ Conference last week was a day full of sparky ideas, innovation and aspiration. Held at the Dome Theatre in Brighton the conference was a gathering of cultural professionals from around the UK as well as people from independent agencies interested in how to bring stories to audiences digitally.
There were excellent speakers throughout the day speaking about ‘What’s the Story?’ – how to innovate using digital techniques and very much focused on using the digital content to engage audiences.
There were some stand out projects, starting with the New York Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum’s ‘Pen’– a highly sophisticated yet thoroughly simple interactive tool developed to make every visitors experience truly human and bring design back to the heart of the museum. Keynote speaker, Seb Chan, spoke with clarity about the need to emphasise the on-site experience for museum visitors with collections now so readily available online. He said one key to developing the Pen was to involve every member of staff from the curators to the security officers to ensure everybody was engaged with creating an amazing experience for visitors.
The Association of Independent Museums has recently launched the 'AIM Hallmarks of Prospering Museums', a framework to help identify the key characteristics of best practice and describes the set of behaviours that make heritage organisations prosper and thrive.
AIM’s experience shows that their success is not down to particular size, funding or whether museums are led by staff or by volunteers. Instead there are common characteristics to these museums – characteristics rooted in how the organisations think and behave, rather than in their size or structures – their culture of resourcefulness, passion and willingness to try new things – the things that give them their independent spirit.
This summer Edinburgh Museums & Galleries ran its second Museum Boot Camp, a 2 week intensive volunteer training course. Nico Tyack, Documentation Officer shares their experience.
Museum Boot Camp is designed for people who want to gain an insight into working in museums, with a view to further developing their museum skills. It is an excellent opportunity for people who are genuinely interested in professional development in museum work, especially in collections management.
First launched in 2014, the rationale behind Boot Camp is to provide an intensive opportunity for voluntary museum work for people who might normally be able to commit to a regular placement.
The Collections Trust is looking to start a discussion about the importance of active collecting and what that might look like in the future. The team recently took a trip to the Victoria & Albert Museum to visit the Rapid Response exhibition and Natalie James, Projects and Programmes Manager writes about her thoughts about this new way of collecting for the V&A.
This Friday, I will leave the Collections Trust after nearly 11 years to take up a new role as the Chief Executive of CILIP (the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals). As is customary when moving on to pastures new, I have spent a lot of the past week thinking about how things have changed over the past decade, and what lies ahead for our profession.
When I joined the Collections Trust in 2004 (when it was still the Museum Documentation Association) the Government was investing in regional museums through the Renaissance in the Regions programme, we were getting to grips with the challenge of digitising collections and sharing them online and the Heritage Lottery Fund was investing in modernising our heritage infrastructure and making it accessible for more people than ever.
In 2014, the Collections Trust opened up a series of discussions about the potential for developing shared approaches to the stewardship, management and development of heritage collections. The resulting paper, 'Towards a National Collections Management Framework' drew on the concept of a Distributed National Collection to highlight some of the benefits of greater coordination.
This article presents the findings and interim project report of the Benchmarking Participation Project, led by Natalie James (@CulturewithaK) on behalf of the Collections Trust.
As reported in the previous project update, the Collections Trust is working with Natalie James on 'Benchmarking Participation', an innovative project which aims to examine what being ‘participatory’ means in practice for museums, how it is expressed in the culture and governance of the museum and how participation and engagement can help a museum achieve its stated goals.
As educational institutions, museums play a unique role in connecting people through heritage and identity. While many people are content simply to visit and enjoy an aesthetic experience of museums, an increasing number are seeking more involved, participatory experiences that offer depth, connection and meaning.
Participation provides an opportunity for museums to strengthen their relationship with their visitors, providing a deeper sense of engagement and encouraging long-term commitment to the organisation. By encouraging community partnership, museums can prove their relevance and value amongst increasingly competitive leisure and entertainment options for audiences.