The Collections in the Landscape project has been all about getting the museum’s collection online, accessible and available in the landscape. The main platform for this is www.buxtonmuseumapps.com but we have also been using other digital platforms to showcase the collections and the work we are doing. I have been busy collating all this information for our Stage 2 application and thought it would be interesting to share some of our discoveries.
Since the beginning of the project, the Collections in the Landscape blog has been the main portal for all of the project content and news. It has also pulled together all of the museum’s social media feeds, which is great because only Facebook features on the main museum website. It has a small but loyal audience, that is growing slowly but steadily, and is actually a great way to disseminate project news to other members of staff.
The museum joined Twitter in October. We have grown to love twitter but we have all found out that it takes a lot of work to make it a success (and there are five of us!). We began by expanding our audience with #FossilFridays and other hashtags, and we also publicise events and exhibitions on there. To our surprise, the main audience for the Twitter feed is other museums and museum professionals. This means it is a great resource for professional enquiries, publicising our work and seeing what others museums are up to. The downside of this is that posted links do not get as much attention as on sites like Facebook. Nevertheless, Twitter is a really useful platform and having that immediate connection to other museums is a great way to boost our profile and showcase our work, even if it isn’t in the way we originally expected.
Flickr is one of the online dinosaurs. Unlike other platforms, you do not have access to your visitor figures, so we have no idea if anyone actually looks at it or not! It is, however, very useful for our purpose and a lot of museums still use it. It offers us a platform to showcase the museum’s collections with high-quality images and any member of staff can easily update and change it. The main issue with Flickr is copyright. Using the site has made us consider the importance of the museum’s digital assets, as well the physical collections, which hadn’t previously been given much thought. If you have visited our Flickr site we would be interested to know what you thought.
The main museum website still takes the bulk of the online visitor figures and is the site we know the most about. The figures show trends that we wouldn’t have thought about; for instance, we get huge spikes in traffic during school holidays. It is also interesting to see how people are reaching the site. Many people search for us directly, or already know where they are going, but one of the biggest referral sites is daysoutwiththekids.co.uk, which we didn’t know about. This shows the importance of having a good hub website where other online projects link to (at the moment there is only a link to Facebook). We are really keen on developing the museum’s website further and, in partnership with the council’s IT team, are in the process of getting some of the collection records online. We are also thinking about making more Collections pages, to really show off what makes the museum special.