Tickets on sale and first keynote announced for MCG’s Museums+Tech 2016: Sharing our Stories

Tickets are now on sale for this year’s annual MCG conference – formerly known as UKMW16 and newly rebranded as the Museums+Tech conference.

The 2016 Museums Computer Group Museums+Tech Conference will be held at the Wellcome Collection, London on 19 October 2016.

Book now to attend our one-day Museums+Tech conference, and hear from a diverse range of speakers about what works, who they worked with and how, and most importantly – what they learned along the way.

Eventbrite - Museums+Tech 2016: Sharing our Stories

Join us for a packed day of talks, networking and knowledge exchange. The conference features two fantastic keynotes from internationally recognised digital innovators. You’ll also learn from experts from Culture24; Deeson; Estonian Photographic Heritage Society; Imperial War Museums; Leeds Museums and Galleries; Museum of London; National Library of Wales; National Museums Scotland; SMARTIFY; The University of Cambridge Museums; TIME/IMAGE , Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums; Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology; Wellcome Collection and York Museums Trust.

First keynote announcement!

Our opening keynote, Sebastian Deterding

Our opening keynote, Sebastian Deterding

Sebastian Deterding is a designer and researcher working on playful and motivational design for human flourishing. Founder and principal designer of the design agency coding conduct, he has created engaging experiences touching millions of users for clients including the BBC, BMW, Deutsche Telekom, and KLM. He is a senior research fellow at the Digital Creativity Labs at the University of York. Sebastian will share his expertise on ‘Designing for Curiosity’. We think his wide, international perspective and deep expertise in design is the perfect opening to the day.

Speaking of curiosity, you’ll instantly recognise the name of our closing keynote speaker, but we’re keeping the secret for a little while yet :)

Sneak peek programme announcement!

Our morning conference session will look at user-focussed approaches to digital storytelling with compelling examples from National Museums Scotland, Museum of London and Culture 24. In the afternoon you’ll be spoilt for choice with parallel sessions where you can learn the best ways to work in a digital world with speakers from York Museums Trust, Imperial War Museums and the Estonian Photographic Heritage Society, or discuss working with collections with speakers from the University of Cambridge, Leeds Museums and Galleries, and National Museums Scotland.

Of course there will also be our regular round of stimulating and provoking Lightning Talks and plenty of opportunities to network and share ideas with colleagues.

Don’t miss out – book your ticket now to avoid disappointment.
Early bird discounts are only available until 19 September.

Eventbrite - Museums+Tech 2016: Sharing our Stories

Some of our fabulous 2016 speakers

Some of our fabulous 2016 speakers

This year’s theme: Sharing our Stories

Museums have a range of ways to tell stories to (and with) a wide and diverse audience. This conference will explore how digital technology supports museum storytelling, from the cutting edge (games, augmented and virtual reality) to the mainstream (social media and audio guides), at the audience interface (websites and in gallery installations) and behind the scenes (audience research and infrastructure).

About MCG events

The Museums Computer Group is a practitioner-led group, founded in 1982. Our first UK Museums on the Web (UKMW) conference was held at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2001 and quickly became an important annual event for the digital museum sector. These days our ‘museums + technology’ conference has moved beyond the web to include any technologies museums use to reach audiences. Our events have an excellent track record for featuring a range of emerging and eminent speakers presenting on topics that matter to you now. Come prepared to challenge speakers, ask questions and network in a friendly and welcoming atmosphere.

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An update from the MCG Committee: Who we are

In the lead up to our November conference, Museums+Tech 2017, and our 35 year anniversary, we thought it would be as good a time as any to reaffirm our values. On our website’s ‘about page’, we describe ourselves as a “UK-based independent group for museum, gallery, cultural heritage and education professionals who work with or are interested in museum technology and digital heritage.” But what does that actually mean? And how does it help you, and the sector?

Who we are

At our core, the Museums Computer Group is a practitioner-led network, which is directed by a passionate volunteer committee. But you direct us too. By your work, your passion and your interests. Our membership is made up of a vast number of people, from all kinds of backgrounds, and that’s incredibly well reflected in both our JISCMail discussion list, and at our events. You bring up interesting topics and you highlight inspiring practice. You are smart, constructive and aren’t afraid to ask questions. You are the voice for technology in the sector.

What we do

That’s a voice that we, as a group, try to reflect, broadcast and advocate. We want to connect you to one another, and to the sector as a whole. We want to support you in your work and your interests. We want to help you develop your career by providing opportunities to learn and connect, and through discussions with government, sector funders and senior leaders. We aim to inspire you, and encourage you to inspire each other. In times of uncertainty, both economic and social, it’s more important than ever for us to do this. For the MCG to connect, support and inspire both you and the sector.

The discussions that we have, on and off-list, reflect that technology comes in all shapes and forms. From social media to 3D printing. From video walls to audio tours. The MCG is here to advocate for the better use of technology – not necessarily for the technology itself. That’s why the discussion list is such a fantastic place to share feedback and thoughts around technology and its applications. Around what has worked well, and what can be improved. This community is an incredibly valuable resource for the sector, and one of our main goals is to connect people to that community.

Where we’re going

We want to continue to position ourselves as a practice-led group. As a community for the sector’s technology-minded professionals. We want to continue to provide an open, friendly and welcoming environment for people to pose questions. To challenge the sector and to be creative within their own work. But most of all, we want people to feel able to share their successes and their failures, so that others can learn from their experiences.

At each Annual General Meeting, our members vote in new Committee members. In the coming months we’ll be re-introducing the committee to the community. We’ll tell you who we are, what we do and how we can help. If you want to get involved, we’ll be posting our usual call for committee nominations later in the year, and this year we’ll also be appointing a new Chair for the MCG at the November conference. These are important posts, so feel free to get in touch if you might be interested in joining our committee.

Until then, we want to thank you for your support of the MCG, and for your support of each other. We take pride in the fact that the Museums Computer Group is a connected community of friendly, passionate people. And we’d like to continue to support that for the foreseeable future.

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MCG’s Museums+Tech 2017 – first call for proposals

Museums+Tech 2017 will be held at the Imperial War Museum, London, on Friday 3 November 2017.

MCG’s Museums+Tech 2017: tech in a divided world

2017 is set to be a challenging year – personally, politically, economically and socially – as the Brexit referendum and international elections made long-standing divisions in society impossible to ignore. 2016 showed that what we know about the state of the world is affected by where we live, our education, and by how we get our news. Museums, too, operate in polarised societies. Our 2017 conference asks whether digital experiences, collections and exhibitions can help create a shared understanding of the world and maybe even heal some of the ruptures that emerged over the last decades.

What is the role of digital technologies and platforms, whether social media, mobile apps, websites, gallery guides, publications, podcasts, videos, or virtual or augmented reality experiences in a divided world? Can museums provide a shared space where those with a range of world views recognise themselves, or where the impact of the ‘filter bubble‘ may be reduced – and if so, can a digital experience have the same impact?

The MCG’s Museums+Tech 2017 conference seeks proposals for presentations addressing these issues. It’s time to celebrate good work, and share ideas for helping museums do better. We’re open to suggestions, but topics might include:

  • How your museum has responded to an external event that’s prompted new ideas for digital experiences or encounters with audiences
  • How your museum has focused on inclusivity and diverse audiences in its digital offering
  • The impact of the political climate on how you present your museum, and how digital technologies have made that easier or harder
  • Behind-the-scenes technical work and organisational change to help reach polarised audiences
  • Tips on applying for funding and working within a limited budget
  • Connecting different communities, e.g. inter-disciplinary work, through collaboration with local or international communities, libraries and archives, or non-heritage organisations and sectors
  • Lessons on creating empathy through digital experiences, perhaps from other sectors, virtual reality, etc
  • Demonstrating integrity in a ‘post-truth’ society or cutting through the noise on news or social media
  • The ability of digital platforms to unpack the ‘neutral’ museum voice and share a range of different perspectives
  • Using digital technologies to ‘break down the barriers’ of physical venues and exhibitions
  • Using digital technologies to connect visitors with each other
  • Bridging the digital divide
  • Reaching audiences that don’t think of themselves as museum visitors
  • Addressing falling (physical) visitor numbers
  • And a bonus topic: in 2017, the Museums Computer Group celebrates its 35th anniversary. How different are museums in 2017 from museums 1982 because of the technologies and practices developed since then (or even since 2007)?

About Museums+Tech 2017

The MCG’s annual conference attracts speakers and participants from some of the most innovative museums, agencies and university programmes in the world. We’re keen to hear from practitioners, researchers, funders, and those from related cultural heritage and technology sectors. All submitted papers will be reviewed by experts in the field.

The conference programme will include long and short presentations, and you can suggest a length to suit your topic in the proposal form below. Short presentations are a great way for you to share useful ideas that others in the sector can try. Longer presentations let you provide a more detailed exploration of a topic or project.

Our audiences love our mixture of old and new voices. We have a great track record in presenting a diverse range of speakers, and we’ve started a profit-sharing scheme in acknowledgement of the resources required to attend and present at events. We can also provide some bursaries for speakers who would benefit from assistance with funds for travel, childcare etc. Please also read our Guidance for Speakers before submitting your proposal. Our events have a code of conduct designed to help everyone enjoy the event.

Proposals deadline

This call for proposals closes at midnight (London time) on Sunday, 30 April 2017. Our international Programme Committee will review proposals over May and you should hear from us at the start of June. If you have any questions please email us.

Ready to share your stories? Fill in our Call for Proposals form

Keynote Sebastien Deterding at MuseTech16

Posted in Events, UKMW

Changing how we manage MCG Membership

We are currently updating how we manage MCG membership to make it easier to keep track of members, and for members to update their details with us as they move jobs or change emails.

We’re currently emailing everyone on our membership registry about this and asking them to add their details to our new list – so if you haven’t received an email it may be that you are not a member (or we have you listed with an old email address). In that case maybe you would like to become a member?

Subscribe below to renew or join as a new member.

Membership of MCG is a step up from joining in our jiscmail discussion list, which is open to everyone (as is membership).

Individual MCG membership is free, and entitles you to discounted registration for our conferences, and the opportunity to steer the direction of the group through participation in our Annual General Meeting (AGM) or by joining our Committee.

We are now using Mailchimp to manage membership, which means you will also be able to manage your membership details from the sign-up form on our website if you move jobs or change email addresses. But don’t worry, we won’t start sending you stacks of emails! If you would like to receive emails about things like upcoming events, you can select this option while you are managing your membership.

We would like to encourage as many people as possible to from a member, as having a large, broad and varied membership gives MCG the mandate to work on behalf of the sector, and demonstrates your commitment to developing your skills and broadening your horizons, no matter what your role in the museum technology field.

Fill in this form to Join Today

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Community discussion: Google Cardboard

MCG discussion list member Kate posted to ask for example Google Cardboard projects, and very kindly followed up with a post summarising comments and projects using these cheap virtual reality headsets. We’ve shared it here to make it easier to find. Over to Kate:

Schools resources
  • Michael White at Parks Canada says Google developed Expeditions ( (‘VR which uses Cardboard as its platform’) focused more on the formal education sector, for things such as school outreach programming and offers virtual school trips to national parks and historic sites, and they plan to use it ‘as a kind of enhanced public activity at urban outreach venues in Canada’s largest cities where we typically have little of our own on the ground presence’. Michael says

    “Although it’s by no means the higher end of what’s happening in VR, the nice thing we’re finding about Expeditions is there’s very little technical effort/expertise needed in developing one, you just need some of your own decent resolution panoramic photos, or you can use pre-existing content on Google Street View, and associated written speaking points similar to an
    interpretive program.”

Further knowledgeable people

UPDATE: Since posting this summary, a few more discussion list members have contributed their VR experiences:

  • Phil Stuart at Preloaded, who has created VR content for the Science Museum, emphasised the excitement still felt by the public at the presence of a VR headset, although this comes with high expectations and the risk of damaging the appeal with low quality experiences. He recommended Gear VR and Daydream, which provide high quality VR across multiple devices, and the formats can easily be transferred to webVR and Google Cardboard. The Handley Page VR created for the Science Museum (in just under eight weeks!) allows visitors to experience the Handley Page aircraft, and is available in Gear VR and Cardboard formats.
  • Ben Vickers at the Serpentine recently worked on their first VR exhibit with Google Cultural Institute and Zaha Hadid Architects – originally designed for the VIVE, but later released for Google Cardboard. The team will soon be sharing more detailed information about the project so that others can learn from their experiences.
  • Original poster Kate has also found out about a new VR headset from Lenovo, which should offer a good ‘middle ground’ between price and quality.
Posted in Guest posts on cultural heritage technologies

My Experience from Museums+Tech16 by Alice Rose

Even though ‘digital’ is not in my job title as a museum documentation assistant, I really wanted to attend the Museums Computer Group Museums+Tech conference.  My interest was sparked earlier in the year when I attended a seminar on digitisation which whet my appetite for the diverse range of applications of technology in all aspects of museum work.  I also feel that the digital world and technology is becoming increasingly important in society and will become a part of every job description, so felt it would be great for my own professional development.

Throughout the day I was inspired, developing ideas which I felt I could take back to my own workplace and utilise in upcoming projects and share with colleagues.  I think the key message I took home, which all the speakers touched on, was to take a user-focused approach based on demand.

Sebastien Deterding

‘Designing for Curiosity’ – Sebastien Deterding

Sebastien Deterding

The opening keynote speaker, Sebastien Deterding, delivered a light but insightful talk on ‘Designing for Curiosity’ which explored how to direct visitors to digital content through creating curiosity – a method which could be applied to physical museum exhibition spaces too.  His comparison to puzzle design through gradually revealing information as opposed to setting up a quiz provided an interesting perspective and a different approach.

Elaine MacIntyre, National Museums of Scotland

Elaine MacIntyre from National Museums of Scotland, provided an interesting case study showing how they improved their website with their new ‘explore’ section.  They adopted a user-focused approach, researching current users and their needs and analysing where their site was falling short.  They used this data to develop their new site which has increased users and dwell time on their collections site.

Rhiannon Looseley, Museum of London

The Museum of London ‘Fire! Fire!’ project, presented by Rhiannon Looseley, demonstrated how much can be achieved within a tight timeframe.  The objective was to create a one-stop resource for anyone wanting to learn about the Fire of London.  This included developing a new website, working with partner institutions to put collections relating to the Fire of London on the site.  In addition, they also developed a Fire of London Minecraft world.  Both aspects of the project highlighted challenges showing the need to be user-focused, strategic and realistic.  The take home message: having it done is better than perfect.  You can always add to it later.

Museum of London ‘Fire! Fire!’ Project – Rhiannon Looseley

Lucy Moore, Leeds Museum

Another highlight of the day was an enthusiastic and inspirational talk by Lucy Moore of Leeds Museums about creating an online interactive on a World War One theme.  The project demonstrates how a museum experience can be taken into the digital sphere.  Collections were at the core of the project, highlighting medals which are usually in store and not regularly accessible to the public.  The resource drew upon the diversity of stories and experiences associated with these objects as well as educating about the physicality of the object.  This in turn inspired users, where they could create their own digital medals and submit them to the museum.  This project succeeded in evoking an emotional connection between individuals, objects and the past.  Even more impressively, it evoked this in audiences thousands of miles away on the other side of the globe, showing the importance of digital in sharing our collections with the world.

Shelley Bernstein, The Barnes Foundation

The day closed with innovations at The Barnes FoundationShelley Bernstein explored issues faced on the ground in the museum, including access and diversity as well as practical issues (such as finding the front door!).  This led to an exploration of audio guides and whether they were fulfilling visitor needs.  This research showed a preference for short-form over long-form content, stimulating interactions in the gallery spaces and saving information for later.  So watch this space for their latest project!  The closing remarks of the day provided a good summary for the day: we should not do something for its own sake, but always do it to improve user experience.


Alice was one of our volunteers for Museums+Tech 2016 and you can read more from our volunteers here, here and here!


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The MCG is for technologists, curators, educators, marketers and more in and around museums. Posts and event news by Mia (Chair), Jess, and the Comms team