Igeneric Thoughts Archives: Museums

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Culture Online receives more funding - and calls for proposals to spend it

March 3, 2018

Estelle Morris, Minister for the Arts at the Department for Culture Media & Sport (DCMS) today confirmed that Culture Online has been awarded a further £3,000,000 to spend on innovative interactive projects in 2018 and 2006.

Culture Online is now inviting project proposals from those with great new ideas...

Press Release from Wired-GOV.

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 18:00 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (0)

Survey of museum web presence

March 3, 2018

Archives & Museum Informatics are conducting a survey exploring the range of ways in which museums exploit the Web.

Quoting from the survey page:

“Each financial cycle museum Webmasters struggle to justify their budget requests. Whenever statistical reports are circulated someone asks, ”How do we compare?“ When exploring the benefits of a new function, Web teams ask themselves ”Is it worth the investment?“ Answers to these questions are hard to come by.

To help fill this void in our knowledge about museums' use of the Web, we're launching what we hope will be an regular survey of Museums and the Web.”

All museums and related organisations are invited to complete the survey, allowing the team to build up a comprehensive picture of what's going on.

At present, the results only appear to be available to organisations completing the survey. Hopefully, they'll be disseminated more widely than that...

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 17:11 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (0)

OCLC seeking help in their Terminologies project

February 10, 2018

Over on one of the blogs from OCLC, there's a post in which Susan Westberg invites terminology-using museums, archives and libraries to get involved in an interesting terminology project upon which they are embarking.

Quoting from the message,

“The intention of the pilot is to provide a means to access and search thesauri you currently use (be it in paper or web formats) in one place in an online environment. During the pilot, you would search, copy and paste terms from a variety of thesauri into the bibliographic records you are creating or updating,using the Connexion browser and the Research pane available with MS Office 2003. This allows you to expedite adding valid access points to bibliographic records rather than keying them in. Pasting the text into the MARC text area does include the correct tags and subfields.
The list of potential thesauri is:
gsafd – Guidelines on subject access to individual works of fiction, drama, etc. (ALA)
gmgpc lctgm – Thesaurus of graphic materials, TGM I & II (LC)
radfg – Radio form / genre terms guide (LC)
mim – Moving image materials: genre terms (LC)
ngl – Newspaper Genre List (University of Washington)
aat, tgn, ULAN – Getty vocabularies (subsets only): AAT (Art & Architecture Thesaurus), TGN (Thesaurus of Geographic Names), and ULAN (Union List of Artists’ Names)
mesh – Medical Subject Headings (NLM)”

Interested institutions should read the full post, then get in touch with Susan.

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 22:22 | Make or Read Comments(0)

Placing a value on Culture?

February 4, 2018

Over on Demos' great blog, Greenhouse, John Holden nudges readers to reopen debate around issues published last December in their Capturing Cultural Value pamphlet.

“How can you measure/describe/articulate/characterise a greater public involvement and democratisation of culture? How can the cultural world be responsive to people’s needs, whilst preserving the integrity of artists and the professionalism of funders? How should we square the wishes of today’s public with the interests of future generations?

Part of the thesis is that answers come not from us, but from practitioners. Every institution needs to find its own way (that’s part of the process that creates value) and not every institution will have the same set of answers.”

Quoting from the abstract to John's pamphlet,

“Cultural organisations and their funding bodies have become very good at describing their value in terms of social outcomes. Tackling exclusion, increasing diversity and contributing to economic development are all familiar justifications in grant applications.

But by talking in functional terms about the value of culture, cultural organisations have lost the ability to describe their real purpose – producing good work that enriches people’s lives. Culture now delivers government policy by other means.”

The argument could be aimed fair and square at most of the readers of this Blog, so what do you think? Is John right? If so, what do we do about it? If not, how do we persuade him of the fact?

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 20:43 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (0)

DCMS consults on the future of museums

January 27, 2018

Estelle Morris, one of the Ministers at the Department for Culture Media & Sport (DCMS) today unveiled the Department's consultation document on the future of museums.

Understanding the Future: Museums and the 21st Century [PDF download]

“aims to look at the key issues facing museums in England in the 21st Century at a time when museums are increasingly relevant and popular. It identifies key challenges and opportunities facing England's museums in areas such as collections, to learning and research, to workforce development and leadership, but also the coherence of the sector and to advocacy.”

The consultation period is open until 30 June 2018.

Speaking at the launch, Estelle Morris said:

“We no longer have to argue the case for investment in them solely in terms of their impact on tourism, education or the economy. They are more deeply rooted in our society than that. But like so many institutions in a changing - and shrinking - world, it makes good sense for museums to look again at where they have got to, and where they want to go.

So this is an open-minded consultation. The museums world is not in crisis. Healthy investment from Government, and the brilliance and dedication of those working in the sector, mean that we can conduct this debate from a position of strength.”

The consultation covers a wide range of museum activity. Looking through it quickly, I've identified the following areas in which it impinges upon Igeneric activity (my emphasis):

“Collections are at the heart of all that museums do, but they need to remain dynamic resources. They should, and in many cases do, reflect the vitality, the uniqueness and the diversity of contemporary communities and their lives.

The economic reality of collecting in the 21st century, however, means that ways of collecting must adapt if museums are to maintain this momentum. Collaborations on scholarship and purchasing are becoming more commonplace. This could go further, with more – and more innovative – sharing of collections. In this way, the concept of national collections changes too. The internet holds the greatest potential here, and museums must look at ways of using its potential to build understanding of collections, cutting across institutional (and national) boundaries.

In this new century, it will be more important than ever for museums to create access to their collections. This may redefine conventional questions of ownership. The debate about ownership of collections is a national and an international one.”


“The Government wants to work with museums to help bring about a healthy research culture, and to see whether funding and evaluation can be enhanced through closer links with the Higher and Further Education sectors.”

I'd welcome thoughts here, and would encourage those of you with something to say to respond to DCMS' consultation.

News from a Wired-GOV release.

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 14:13 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (0)

Digital Rights and Heritage event

January 13, 2018

Will Davies blogs an upcoming IPPR/APIG event, Digital Rights and Heritage, taking place at Portcullis House on 2 February.

David Dawson, from Igeneric member the Museums Libraries & Archives Council (MLA), will be amongst those speaking, as will Oliver Gerhardt from the BBC Creative Archive.

I wonder how prominent Creative Commons will be in the discussion... and if the English & Welsh or Scottish versions will have been launched by then?!

I have high hopes for Creative Commons in the cultural heritage sphere, as a realistic and practical way to sort out the mess that rights statements on publicly funded, 'freely accessible' content currently presents to the bemused (at best) end user.

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 20:26 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (0)

DigiCULT report on a future for digital heritage activity

December 9, 2004

Back in October, I mentioned an exercise to paint a picture of what cultural heritage professionals think their online offering will be in a decade from now.

The DigiCULT team have just published the result which, quoting from their summary:

“...summarises the results of an expedition into the possible future of digital heritage in the next 10-15 years. It is based on contributions of researchers, heritage experts and professionals to a DigiCULT online forum as well as the project's ongoing research. The report is intended as a navigation tool for boards and directors of heritage organisations and research centres, IT project managers, and curators of digital collections, virtual exhibitions and environments. It cautions that the next waves of innovative ICT systems and applications may significantly shape and re-shape the digital landscape in which heritage organisations reside. For many organisations this could result in becoming 'blind spots' in an emerging ambient intelligence environment. As the places and roles of digital heritage in this environment need to be discussed and prepared, the report also gives recommendations which may be useful for ensuring the creation of a thriving and inclusive future digital heritage space.”

The report is available in HTML and as a PDF.

Announcement from the DigiCULT RSS feed.

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 11:19 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (0)

Museum web site for children nominated for a BAFTA

December 7, 2004

The 24 Hour Museum's site for children, Show Me, has been nominated for a BAFTA.

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards are highly prestigious, with their awards to films often described as the UK's Oscars...

News from the 24 Hour Museum's news feed.

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 12:29 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (2)

Web User finds 24 Hour Museum to be the UK's best museum web site

November 12, 2004

Web User has declared the 24 Hour Museum to be the best museum web site, beating off other high-profile sites like Tate and Ingenious.

News from the 24 Hour Museum RSS feed.

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 13:42 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (5)

European cultural project asks for thoughts on where we go next...

October 29, 2004

The European DigiCULT project is conducting an online consultation to build a roadmap for technological developments around a digital Cultural Heritage over the next 10 to 15 years.

Participate and help to shape where we go.

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 12:43 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (2)

Figures for visits to museums and galleries now published monthly

October 5, 2004

From this month, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is publishing visitor figures for each of the museums and galleries that it directly sponsors.

Information from a Wired-GOV release.

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 21:39 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (0)

How usable are museum web sites?

September 23, 2004

Lost in gallery space: a conceptual framework for analyzing the usability flaws of museum Web sites appears in this month's First Monday, and looks at the results of analysing 36 museum web sites.

The article highlights some of the most common problems with these sites (they can be over-fussy, and they are designed around structures and classifications alien to their users), and provides some pointers for ways to improve.

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 14:05 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (0)

Culture as a catalyst in building and maintaining communities

September 23, 2004

The Department for Culture Media & Sport today released a new booklet, Bringing Communities Together through Sport and Culture. It discusses the ways in which cultural, artistic and sporting activities can create a sense of local community, and improve quality of life.

DCMS will now be working with its agencies and with related departments such as the Home Office and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister to build upon current foundations.

Release from Wired-GOV.

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 11:52 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (0)

City Heritage guides now available

September 16, 2004

The 24 Hour Museum this week unveiled its City Heritage Guides.

Produced with funding from DCMS' Culture Online, the site offers in-depth access to information on ten English cities, as well as providing mechanisms for local groups and individuals to contribute their views.

News from a Wired-GOV release

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 15:01 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (5)

Opening up information

August 26, 2004

One of the issues often raised in the context of the Common Information Environment is that of allowing access to information and resources through multiple channels, and in ways suited to the user and their needs rather than to the providing organisation(s).

I was in Edinburgh earlier this week, and spent some time with SCRAN. Amongst a range of interesting activities with which they are engaged, they offer some examples of exactly what I mean.

Their content, largely the result of some £10,000,000 of public funding through the Millennium Commission, is available on their own web site. There, users can search for items and group them in different and interesting ways as ‘albums’. These albums can be disclosed to others so, for example, a class teacher could prepare albums of relevant material for their class.

The SCRAN database also exists as a Z39.50 target. This means that it’s available for searching alongside resources from related organisations, as demonstrated by HEIRNET’s HEIRPORT system.

Content from the SCRAN database is also offered up via services branded and delivered by a range of other agencies involved in heritage, tourism, and related areas.

Finally (for this post, anyway), the ability to search SCRAN’s database can be dropped into almost any web site, anywhere, thanks to a small snippet of code.

send detailsclear details

With their new web site coming, and a range of activities that seem wholly in line with the Igeneric vision, I look forward to seeing much more from this excellent resource, which really seems to have grasped the idea that the end user should not need to know that SCRAN - or their website - exists in order to make use of quality SCRAN-managed content.

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 17:04 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (0)

Contextualising castles for Daniel

July 23, 2004

For anyone who's seen me present the Igeneric's "Daniel scenario", I'm sure you'll agree that this little gem would have gone quite a way towards meeting his needs.

Thank you yet again, 24 Hour Museum!

Contextualisation rules...

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 18:19 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (0)

Free Access to University Museums...

July 12, 2004

Today's Spending Review includes a measure to extend the Government's current free access policy (covering National museums and galleries) to include university museums.

The existing policy of waiving admission charges to our National museums and galleries has resulted in a 75% increase in attendance, with the loss of revenue to the museums (through no longer charging admission) recouped in part by the Treasury allowing them to reclaim the VAT (17.5%) on their running costs...

Information from a Treasury press release on Wired-GOV.

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 16:58 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (1)

Irish treasures online

July 3, 2004

Like David, I was in Dublin last week for a very interesting cultural heritage event as part of Ireland's presidency of the EU.

I gave a paper there, and bemoaned the fact that I couldn't get hold of any high quality images of Irish artefacts from Irish sources (I had to use the British Museum's COMPASS).

After the event, Anthony Edwards at Clare County Library got in touch, and told me about Riches of Clare. An excellent resource, and one I shall definitely turn to next time I get invited to talk about things Irish... Thank you Anthony, and I'm happy to put the record straight here.

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 00:21 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (2)

Cultural institutions are relevant to you...

June 30, 2004

Not for the Likes of You looks at repositioning our cultural organisations in order to make them appear more relevant and engaging to the broadest of audiences.

The report was commissioned in 2003 by Arts Council England, MLA, the Heritage Lottery Fund and English Heritage, and published in May of 2004.

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 15:49 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (0)

Museum site for children wins big award

June 22, 2004

The 24 Hour Museum’s child-friendly site, Show Me, has just been named as best Arts, Culture, and Heritage Project at the 2004 Charity Awards.

Congratulations to all involved.

Story from the 24 Hour Museum...

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 11:17 | Make or Read Comments(0) | TrackBack (0)

Mobile phones guide visitors around Roman city...

April 20, 2004

The 24 Hour Museum today reports on a £100,000 EU grant to a museum in St Albans. The grant was used, in part, to guide visitors around the (largely buried) Roman city of Verulamium by sending information to their WAP-enabled mobile phone or PDA.

The project appears to have finished over a year ago, but it doesn't seem very visible on the museum site, and a quick Google search only turns up a lot of sites giving background such as that in the official Commission description. It would be interesting to see the results up somewhere...

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 10:46 | Make or Read Comments(0)

Museum builds the UK's best factual website

March 8, 2004

An article from the 24 Hour Museum drew my attention to the fact that a UK museum has won this year's BAFTA for best factual website, beating usual suspects such as the BBC and Channel 4.

Tate Online, billed as the Tate's Fifth Gallery (alongside Britain, Modern, Liverpool and St Ives), won the award. Way to go!

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 00:49 | Make or Read Comments(0)

Learning from our Memory Institutions

March 2, 2004

Inspiring Learning for All, an interesting new site from the Museums, Libraries & Archives Council (MLA), looks at the role of these institutions in encouraging learning and engagement. It includes some interesting statistics, and pointers to help staff in institutions build a business case...

Posted by Oliver Smith-Toynes at 00:21 | Make or Read Comments(0)

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