A Pause for thought

The Stage 1 development of Collections in a Landscape is drawing to a close, and as we beaver away making finishing touches to the Stage 2 application I wanted to pull together what the team have got out of the project so far. But fret ye not! The blog will be alive and kicking until we hear about the Stage 2 application, so do not go anywhere.

  ML Martha LawrenceMartha Lawrence

Working in a museum means you have creative ideas for projects every day. Some of them never get beyond the “It’d be great to…” stage. Some of them, however, like Collections in the Landscape, you nurture and grow by discussion with colleagues, applying for funding, expanding the team, exploring new concepts and putting flesh on the bones to make something tangible. Coming to the end of the Stage 1 development year, having let our ideas and dreams develop into something we’ve written down and shared with people, albeit with the caveat “If we get the Stage 2 funding…”, I’m trying not to let myself get too excited about the future, in case our grant application isn’t successful. But, if it isn’t, this year has still been worth every minute and every penny as we’ve seen, done and learned so much. The museum is not the same place it was in August 2012 when the Stage 1 application was submitted.

 JP - 20140301_132205

Joe Perry

I feel very fortunate to have been swept along on the CITL ride. It’s given me the chance to work with some really interesting technologies and, more importantly, some really interesting people! It’s been a privilege to work with the team and I’ve got my fingers crossed that the hard work we’ve put in leads to great things in the future. My personal highlight was conducting research and app testing at Arbor Low, you really can’t beat a good henge…

 

 BJ - ben's a baby eagleBen Jones

It’s been an honour to serve with the CITL team; their enthusiasm and creativity knows no bounds, and nearly everyone watches Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad, which is a bonus. I hope the hard work we’ve done is of benefit to the future of the museum. My favourite part of the project was recording memories of Buxton residents for the Stories of Shopping app. I fear that a lot of knowledge is getting lost because no one is recording or writing it down, so I’ve come out of stage 1 wanting to do more. I’ll also be pestering my managers to give the Randolph Douglas collection a permanent display and trying to persuade them that live medieval combat in the galleries is a good idea.

 

JC Croxden abbey Jess Coatesworth

Collections in the Landscape has been a challenging, fast-paced, educating experience. As a team we’ve been very lucky, we all get on (still!) and have worked really well together; the museum Digital Trails are testament to this. I’ve enjoyed getting to grips with social media and have grown to love Twitter. I know things about fossils that I never thought I would and have spent more time designing things than I would have anticipated. It is good to know that Collections in the Landscape project has benefitted the museum too, adding more detailed records, high quality photography, and improving the museum’s digital presence. There are some really great partnerships developing from this project and, regardless of the success of the Stage 2 application, Collections in the Landscape has introduced a way for us to all work together to publicise the wonderful history and heritage of the Peak District.

 

 AR - DSCF1526  Anna Rhodes

I was a bit daunted when we started Collections in the Landscape as I knew very little about innovative ways to use technology in museums. I was still getting my head around what apps were, let alone knowing how to go about making one. In the end I realise that it is no great mystery and the same skills are needed in both traditional and digital interpretation. The technology side was more accessible than I imagined and I think we sometimes do ourselves a disservice in thinking that we are too ‘museumy’ and won’t be able to grasp the technological side of things. If you had told me a year ago that I would be going into the ‘back end’ of an app to edit it, I wouldn’t have believed you. Oh, and I never thought I’d be such a fan of twitter hashtags, now I just need to get #TrumpetBroochTuesday viral.  

 

RW 6-14

I think the final work should go to the Derbyshire Museums Manager, Ros Westwood:

 Where has the year gone?

 Collections in the Landscape is not just a project. It brought together many people, the team working here, our colleagues across the council, new partners, regular and new volunteers and experienced, wise advisers.

I always expected it would be an opportunity to learn new skills and see fledgling ideas grow and mature. The bonus has been the accumulation of information on databases and available to our users through a variety of routes. What is reassuring is that that the concept is sound. We have found ways that we can develop these ideas and make the collections available out there, in your pocket or at an internet link near you: your armchair, public library or local internet café.  

 Like all big adventures, there is lots of planning needed, and you make friends along the way. Stay with us – we are on the start of a wonderful adventure in the Peak.

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Online Platforms

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.

Twitter

A good way to communicate quickly with other museum professionals

 

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.

Great for displaying good quality images, but how visitors use it is a mystery

Great for displaying good quality images, but how visitors use it is a mystery

 

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.

It’s purple and popular

It’s purple and popular

 

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.