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Download issue 06 (High resolution) April 2011 (PDF, 3,9 MB)

Download issue 06 (High resolution) April 2011 (PDF, 3,9 MB)

New Technologies The

New Technologies The National Museums of Scotland In the last two years National Museums Scotland has taken significant steps forward in how we utilise digital tools and technologies to help communicate what we do and encourage people to get involved with us. The creation of a specific Digital Media team in 2009 has meant an increased focus on how we use our own website, social media, other websites and mobile phones to give access to collections information, offer different forms of interpretation and engage with our audiences. National Museums Scotland has a highly diverse range of collections spanning five museums (the National Museums of War, Flight, Costume, Rural Life and our main location in Edinburgh, the National Museum of Scotland) across six curatorial departments ranging from World Cultures to Science & Technology. As with the curation of a ‘real’ display or exhibition there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to showcasing museum objects on digital platforms. Our objects vary vastly in size, scale, origin and type; a tiny fossil, a medieval sword, a set of bagpipes, a WWII recruitment poster or Concorde! Thinking about how we demonstrate such variety online presents us with lots of opportunities, but there is a constant challenge of whether to focus on small amounts of in-depth content covering specific subject areas (our interactive resource on the Lewis Chessmen is a good example of this or a more broad-brush approach, akin to a lot of museums’ online collections, where we try to feature as large a range of object records as possible. Presently we’re edging forward on both fronts, making sure we measure what’s working along the way. Telling the story behind-the-scenes of the Museum has proved to be a lively and popular way of increasing awareness of our work online. Our blog took a little time to get off the ground – generating enough intriguing stories and giving a sense of the range of activities we undertake meant working across a number of museum sites and internal departments. Explaining what we were trying to achieve and also familiarising staff with blogging style and tools was an important first step, and the blog has established a healthy audience in a relatively short space of time, and has been the source of some unexpected discussions! In 2010 we substantially overhauled our web presence. We redesigned the website with new navigation, big colourful images and took some important steps with the technology that underpins it. A key point in this regard is that we’re not only considering how people view the site using traditional PCs and laptops, but also how it can be viewed using mobile phones and new tablet devices (such as the Apple iPad). This is an important factor for anyone who is considering a new website, or is redeveloping their existing one – sales of smartphones recently overtook those of PCs for the first time and people are increasingly accessing the web through them. We’ve also made headway in setting up presences on social media websites. Social media is the collective term commonly given to websites and online tools which allow users to interact with each other in some way. We have 42 MAGAZINE ISSUE 06

New Technologies active presences on Twitter and Flickr, and are beginning to gain some ground in our use of Facebook. We see use of these platforms as vital in connecting with audiences – evidence shows that potential audiences – particularly, but not exclusively younger people - are far more likely to be spending time here than on culture sector websites. As such, social media spaces are ideal places to share content and build conversations around our collections, exhibitions and events. As we move forward we’re keen to develop these conversations into more active participation and encourage people to contribute to our programming. We work closely with colleagues across the Museum including curators and exhibition programmers to get all the information we need to create content as well as to our marketing and communications teams to make sure we are coordinated in what we’re presenting to the public across the ever-increasing number of channels that we use. The Museum also uses more traditional electronic communication, including a popular monthly e-newsletter and the addition of some film footage to the website, which has been particularly useful in showing people what we’re doing with the major redevelopment of the National Museum of Scotland. As we count down to re-opening of the Museum on 29 July this year, we look forward to using new technology to communicate about the new offer to our audiences. There is, of course, a significant resource overhead to all of this activity so managing the flow of information and responding to queries and comments is factored into our planning. But there’s always an element of the unknown when it comes to digital technology as things move so fast – it’s important to be pragmatic, prepare for activities to fail as well as be resounding successes, and keep an eye out for what might be round the corner. For more: Website: Twitter: @ntlmuseumsscot Facebook: Flickr: Blog: The Army Museum, Stockholm New technology in the Army Museum L ike many other military museums we have a section dedicated to peacekeeping operations. This is, today, an area of some 225 square meters where we show some scenes from Congo, Kosovo and Cyprus and a new section about Afghanistan – the intention is to change this exhibition every year. This year, 2011, we will show a barracks from the Swedish mission Camp Victoria in Kosovo, Pristina. The barracks is already outside the museum and work has started to redesign the exhibition to make the barracks fit. As far as technology I concerned we have developed a new kind of digital screen in the exhibition area. There are many possibilities to do different things on this screen, including films. However, the important thing is the blog written by Swedish soldiers in Afghanistan. Visitors, schoolchildren or anybody, can ask questions of the soldiers and both questions and answers are shown on the screen. You can ISSUE 06 MAGAZINE 43

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