Posts Tagged ‘Museums Australia conference’

Going online anyone?

 
At the Museums Australia conference in Newcastle last month I had the privilege of talking freely with colleagues in the museum sector about what was exciting and concerning them about making collection information available online.
 
Some really important issues and interests arose and I’d like to share some of them in brief with you.
 
Robert Landsdown, Museum of Human Disease and I spoke about the ethics of making collection information available online. Without much imagination it is clear that the museum Robert works in holds some sensitive collection material and the ethical issues with privileging access to that collection are many.
 

 
Robert really provoked my thinking, and I carried on that conversation with a colleague Dion Peita working with the anthropology collection at the Australian Museum this morning over coffee and learned that the museum has gone live today with its new website design – take a look!
 
Belinda Nemec, Cultural Collections, University of Melbourne and I spoke about how to work through rights issues with collections of digitised materials aggregated for one purpose but with potential for repurposing for an online audience.
 

 
Liz Marsden, Victoria Police Museum & Historical Unit and I spoke about looking for opportunities to work across the sector and determine standards for collection description that reflect the curatorial scope of the collections being managed, e.g. law enforcement.
 

 
I speculated wildly with Sarah about the potential for historical law enforcement and convict related information to be presented online together reflecting upon Christine Yeates comments in the CAN interview posted on the Outreach blog about the rich historical government resources managed in state archives.
 
Lastly, a brief chat with Edith Cuffe, Abbey Museum of Art and Archaeology about the realities of collecting organisations going online with their collections that use satellite or dialup and are outside the broadband reach.
 

 
There is real potential there to use CAN to make collections available but seems a continued need to lobby for extensive broadband access. Aspects of the ‘digital divide’ are definitely still on the radar in real terms and not just financial terms.
 
Plenty to think about and plenty of opportunities to learn from each other…

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Working together to develop relationships with audiences and stakeholders

Manchester Art Gallery’s Kim Gowland and Jane Wilcox presented a paper on identifying and building audiences at the recent Museums Australia conference in Newcastle last month. The presentation titled Working together to develop relationships with audiences and stakeholders outlines how the gallery worked with the UK government and the North West Museums Hub to attract under represented audiences. This powerpoint presentation is available on our collectionsaustralia Slideshare channel.

In the UK, widening access to culture is central to the national government agenda. Government research into regional museums identified common problems such as declining visitor numbers. This led to the establishment of the ‘Renaissance in the Regions’ program with the aim of increasing visit numbers and attracting a more diverse audience, more representative of the UK population. The key target groups were lower income households, black and minority ethnic people and disabled people.

North West Museum Hub, UK

To achieve this mandate, Gowland and Wilcox at the Manchester Art Gallery needed to understand who their visitors were and what they wanted. The North West Museum Hub employed audience development specialist Morris Hargreaves McIntyre to engage in this research. This involved sharing existing knowledge, meeting quarterly to discuss and analyse the findings and setting up an online group to share information, issues and insights. The group of museums also jointly commissioned new research.

Manchester Art Gallery

Morris Hargreaves McIntyre used dynamic and creative qualitiative and quantitative research tools to identify the different museum audiences. Quantitative research involved surveys within the gallery space while qualitative research used post-it notes to record responses to an exhibition design and content. They also conducted focus group discussions, interviews, audience forums, and vox pops.

The eight audience groups identified were kids-first families, learning families, siteseers, third-spacers, experts, self-developers, afficiondos and sensualists. At the Museums Australia conference, Gowland and Wilcox explained three of the audience groups: third spacers – socially motivated, sensualists – spiritually/emotionally/aesthetically motivated and self developers – intellectually motivated. They believed that while everyone has probably visited a museum for social reasons, they suggested we tend to fall into either the sensualist or self-developer categories. The slides in the Powerpoint presentation were illustrated by Paul Loudon giving us a clear sense of the characteristics of each category type.

In the next CAN Outreach Blog post, we will outline how to identify different audiences. If you would like to subscribe to this blog using our RSS feed, please click on the orange icon at the top right-hand side of this page.

If you would like more information about the Renaissance in the Regions project, email Kim Gowland and Jane Wilcox

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Telling stories using maps

The first thing Joy Suliman focuses on in the morning is the Alessi kettle sitting on her stove top. The funky Italian design prepares her for a great day. Just looking at the slick lines and quirky details makes her feel good as she pours water into it for her cup of tea. In gratitude to how this beautiful design makes her feel, the former CAN project manager decided her kettle’s story deserved to be told.

Alessi / Michael Graves Kettle with bird whistle 1986

Joy geo-tagged in Google Earth a video of the Michael Graves Blue Kettle with Bird Whistle in her apartment and then created a tag for the Powerhouse Museum’s Inspired! exhibition in Google Earth and included information about the kettle from the Powerhouse Museum’s online collection records. From there we travel to Portland in the United States where architect Michael Graves designed what claims to be the “first postmodern building” and finally to the Italian city which boasts to be the home of the Alessi design studio. Now when Joy watches her birdy sing on the stove she thinks about the global story behind her treasured object.

She presented this story at the Museums Australia conference in Newcastle last month with the aim of motivating her colleagues to start telling stories about their collection through mapping. We have uploaded the video of Joy’s presentation on our collectionsaustralia YouTube channel and the Powerpoint presentation on our collectionsaustralia Slideshare account. A guide to how to geomap your collection will be available in Sector Resources.

Joy says she chose Google Earth rather than Google Maps because it is an application offering animation and a sense of drama. In her new role at the Powerhouse Museum’s Soundhouse Vector Lab, she teaches high school students how to build themed-journeys using Google Earth. Joy has not embedded this kettle project into a website. Instead she has saved it as a KMZ file (which is a zipped keyhole market language file), so she can email it as an attachment to other Google Earth users. If Joy decides to embed it into a website so that other people can geotag their own Alessi kettles, we would be able to see where the little birdy sings around the world.

Geotagging objects in your collection is a good way to give information about them. Whether you embed a map into your own website or use Flickr, you just drag the image to a location on the map. The best example of where geomapping works well is in the Flickr Commons. Institutions and the public are geotagging historic photographs so when you zoom into a place in Google maps you can see 150 years of images comparing then and now.

If you would like to use or embed Google Maps / Earth in your projects, click here for the terms and conditions.

Sarah Rhodes

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