Wednesday, 25 November 2015 16:39

Implementing a Museum DAMS that’s fit for purpose

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brighton 300x300Guest 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.

EEXCESS logo 300x300The 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.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015 15:22

Free digital tools for content reuse available

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Is it possible to create a set of tools that can be easily and cheaply used by cultural heritage organisations to showcase their work? This was one of the challenges for the AthenaPlus project. Gordon McKenna, Projects and Programmes Manager at the Collections Trust, explains how the challenge was met and shares the results with a focus on MOVIO, an online digital exhibition building tool. 

Japanese print from Tyne Wear Archives MuseumsThe 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.

Museum bootcampThis 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.

VA Christian Louboutin 5 Shades Of NudeThe 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.

Tuesday, 09 June 2015 10:39

The future is bright

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Nick pooleThis 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. 

MAP WITH IRONSIn 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.


Download the discussion paper 'Towards a National Collections Management Framework'

Monday, 18 May 2015 09:29

Benchmarking Participation - Project Report

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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.

Monday, 13 April 2015 07:51

Benchmarking Participation in Museums

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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.

In this letter, Peter Barwell, Registrar at Bloxham Village Museum shares his experience of using Museum Freecycle to source a replacement for his Donations jar. For more information and to join the free Museum Freecycle network, visit

When I first read about Museum Freecycle, I was so excited because having been the registrar of Bloxham Village Museum for 15 years I have never had any funds to use for buying anything. Like all little Museums we have to go on the cadge for funds to acquire anything.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015 00:46

Disobedient Objects at the V&A

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A 'Bike Bloc' - a rolling blockade used in protest marches, on display at Disobedient Objects at the V&A, 2015Nick Poole takes a look at 'Disobedient Objects', the current temporary exhibition at the V&A which runs until the 1st February 2015.

Disobedient Objects is the latest temporary exhibition at the V&A, housed within the flexible space of the Porter Gallery, just to the left of the main entrance lobby. 

I've always loved the Porter Gallery - it's easy to access and provides a flexible space which the V&A has used imaginitively to explore an ever-changing range of contemporary art movements and ideas. It is also a blank canvas, which has clearly provided a challenge to the curator, Catherine Flood - how to turn this large room into an experience which both reflects the chaos of activism while also providing a sense of narrative. 

From centuries-old specimens to entirely new types of specialized collections like frozen tissues and genomic data, the American Museum of Natural History's scientific collections (with more than 33,000,000 specimens and artifacts) form an irreplaceable record of life on Earth, the span of geologic time, and knowledge about our vast universe.

In this first episode of a new series called 'Shelf Life', staff at the museum explore some of the weird and wonderful things in their collections, and talk about how you can discover new science in the collections just as easily as you can in the field.

Wednesday, 07 January 2015 08:44

Spotlight on: MDA Codes Featured

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Did you know that the Collections Trust (and its predecessor body the MDA) has maintained a system of unique identifiers for UK museums for nearly 40 years?

Known as 'MDA Codes', this system assigns a unique 5-letter code to identify each museum (or group of museums or sites). The code can be used alongside the accession number of an object to provide a persistent connection between the object and the museum.

The Open Data Institute (ODI) has recently announced a new Open Data Challenge focused on Culture and Heritage. The challenge encourages designers, coders, companies and cultural heritage organisations to work together to come up with creative ideas in response to the challenge "How can we use open data to engage more people, and more diverse people, in UK heritage and culture".

Monday, 08 December 2014 08:39

Anytime, anyplace, anywhere

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Collections Trust CEO Nick Poole explores how wearables and the Internet of Things are bringing the museum without walls to reality.

Picture the scene. You're walking down the street when your watch buzzes subtly on your wrist, alerting you to an exhibition of your favourite artist that opens today in the gallery down the road. You've just parked your car and watched the automated parking registration ping on your dashboard when the GPS screen asks if you want to know more about the local history in the area you've just reached. You take your kids to see a local ruin and watch as they use the heads-up display on their glasses to explore a virtual reconstruction in time and space.

In a time of economic pressure and increased competition for funding, it is more important than ever that collections professionals are able to create compelling and successful grant proposals.

The Collections Trust has led grant proposals worth more than £15m since 2008, and our staff are regularly invited to work with funders as assessors and advisers to new grant programmes. In this Powerpoint presentation, Collections Trust CEO Nick Poole explores what it takes to create an effective grant proposal for a collections-based project, what to avoid and where to look for funding support.

Friday, 21 November 2014 16:12

Museum Freecycle

freecycle-logoSince its conception in June 2014, Museum Freecycle has grown from strength to strength. There are now over 200 individual members of the group which ranges from the small independent museum to the large national museum.

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