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.

Posted in Current Events, Current Events, Event-Category, Events, UKMW

Proposal: replace formal ‘Spring’ regional events with informal events

The goal for distributed events

The MCG’s mission is to connect, support and inspired people working with technology in museums. Our goal in changing event formats is to achieve our mission by reaching more people so they can access the resources of the wider digital heritage community and create stronger local networks.

Working with locals means events can be adapted to suit the regional context. It also might give volunteers an opportunity to meet others, develop event management and marketing skills. More informal, shorter events should also allow the sector to discuss topical issues. Lots of topics are easier to discuss in person over a cup of tea (or something stronger) than on email, discussion lists or social media. We could work with other organisations or interest groups to discuss wider topics such as digital heritage, GLAMs or digital scholarship.

Measures of success for an individual event might include one or more of:

  • Five people attending
  • Someone who doesn’t formally have ‘digital’ in their job description or title attending
  • People making one or more new connections that will help them deal with a current issue
  • People using the event to learn about a new topic

Proposed formats

I’d like to propose that we experiment with distributed events instead, where we work with locals to run a smaller-scale, informal event under the MCG banner.

Specifically, this means that we’d support people in organising an event, but it’s up to them to run it.

We can help publicise events, host information on our website, find speakers, suggest topics, put some money into catering or room hire, pay the volunteer some recompense for their time and any expenses – but we expect that they would organise a venue, publicise it locally, and report on the event outcomes for our list/website.


The meetup format I’d like to try is based on Teacamp; for more background, read Matt Jukes’ post about tthe format Teacamps start at 4pm and finish at 6pm, ‘allowing people who need to to get home at a sensible time and not really massively interrupting a work day’.

We might want to find a way to include guest speakers or special topics to make it more of a destination event, but I like how informal it sounds, the ease of venue management and the way it’s designed to fit into busy work/life schedules.

People in smaller museums may not think of their role as ‘digital’, so topics relevant to specific problems might work well for reaching people outside our existing circles.

Other possible formats

  • Tours of new/improved galleries
  • Demos of new/improved websites, apps
  • #drinkingaboutmuseums
  • Lunchtime meetings
  • Breakfast meetings
  • Meetups at or after other conferences, training days
  • Panels at other conferences
  • Partner with other events to host digital topics
  • Excursions to visit other museums, retail spaces, etc
  • ‘Fail camp’ / Failure Swapshop

To make logistics easier, we could buy a membership and let people use it to manage meetups in different locations, to help make RSVPs or whatever easier, and maybe reach new people. We could also use eventbrite, or try each in different locations and see which works better.

What next?

Create an information page – who we are, why run an event with us, what each party agrees to do, how organising an event helps the organiser, etc, based on this document.

Pilot and evaluate it – ask for volunteers to run a regional event.

If you’re interested in organising an event, what further information would you need?

What you can do

If you’re interested in organising an event or would like to suggest a topic for one, get in touch.


The Museums Computer Group has been running two events a year for several years now. The annual Museums+Tech (formerly UKMW) conference in London usually has about 200-250 delegates, depending on the venue capacity. The Spring ‘regional’ event is always held outside of London, and is usually much smaller, with 40 to 80 delegates. Finding and liaising with a venue, putting together a programme, selling tickets and running the event currently have similar overheads. Both events usually have a call for papers, with a subsequent review by a programme committee leading to a full-day programme of sessions. The marketing and communications activity aimed at selling tickets to each event can be more difficult for regional events as it can be hard to find and reach local groups.

Both events can consume a lot of volunteer time and it can be difficult to manage other committee activities while these events are being organised. In general, committee member time can be extremely scarce, as people deal with deadlines at work, personal issues, parental leave, etc. If we can reduce the overhead for events, we would have more time for partnerships, advocacy and discussion with funders and governmental bodies, responses to white papers and other changes etc, to tackle systemic issues affecting the sector.

The regional events are appreciated by delegates, but as the number of delegates isn’t proportionate to the work required to organise and run the event, we’re looking to change the format of MCG’s regional events.

Posted in Uncategorized

MCG 2016 AGM reports

MCG Chair’s report 2016

The process of posting reports for the Annual General Meeting, begun in 2012 as part of our drive for greater transparency and accountability to our members, has been consolidated this year – thanks to everyone who prepared their reports in advance.

I’m encouraged to see that the tone of list discussion continues to be more constructive, and that rare instance of less constructive criticism are corrected by fellow posters. The discussion list is a truly valuable resource for the digital museum and heritage sector.

The MCG website is now archived by the UK Web Archive. We held a website ‘working bee’ in January 2016 to help refresh older content, add images and streamline the information architecture; there is still lots to do on content and design.

We’re successfully building a repository of images from events to use in marketing and communications, in part through bursary posts for bloggers, photographers, etc. These bursary posts have also helped us reach new audiences while providing opportunities for emerging professionals. We had 24 applicants for bursary/paid volunteer posts for this conference, which is hopefully a sign that they are valued by recipients.

We updated the conference proposal form to ask questions that would help us promote specific speakers and papers as part of our event marketing plan. More activity around events planning and tasks earlier have helped ensure success of this event. Documenting event goals, timelines and the reasons for the practices we’ve developed over the past years should help with sharing the workload for events while maintaining a consistent level of quality.

Earlier this year I proposed changing the brand of our annual UK-focused Museums on the Web (UKMW) conference to reflect the shift in focus to an event that encompassed any public-facing technology in museums. Calling the conference ‘Museums+Tech’ should be more flexible while ensuring consistent branding over the years. The branding changed after planning and promotion for the 2016 conference had begun, but the success of today would indicate that it was worth changing.

Managing events with limited volunteer resources is still our biggest challenge. One proposal is to replace formal ‘Spring’ regional events with informal events. Our Spring regional events are appreciated by delegates, but attendance is relatively small and organising them takes up almost as much time as the bigger annual conference, with proportionally less impact for the time invested. It should allow events to be more flexible and responsive to both local contexts and topical discussions. The suggested change to informal, shorter events organised with the wider MCG community should also allow the committee more time to think and act more strategically to tackle systemic issues affecting the sector.

My final term comes to an end at the 2017 AGM, so I began succession planning this year and will be reducing my day-to-day involvement with events over the coming year.

As is probably common in volunteer organisations, achieving a balanced distribution of work across the committee is an ongoing challenge. We’ll continue to think about how we can make the expectations for committee members more clear, and perhaps look at more flexible terms (e.g. one year secondments as maternity etc cover). Organising our activities so we have resources for more strategic work is a key goal for the coming year. Given the changes in the sector over the past few years, reviewing our activities against our mission and goals is timely.

[Report by Mia Ridge, Chair, Museums Computer Group 2016]

Accounts (Treasurer’s Report)

Annual Accounts 2015
The final accounts of the Museums Computer Group as at 31 December 2015 are submitted for the Meeting’s approval.

As per last year, they were produced by Michael Bushell of Lee, Dicketts & Co, Chartered Certified Accountants, Business & Tax Advisers, Kent.

The accounts show a balance of £15,805.56 at the year-end; up from £12,088 in 2014 and up from £9,397 in 2013. The Income and Expenditure account shows that in 2015 the Museums Computer Group had an income of £10,988.71, an expenditure of £7,617.06, and a surplus of £3,371.65.

Events summary
2015 saw two major events, MGM15 in Cambridge, and UK Museums on the Web 2015 conference held at the British Museum, London.

The event at the British Museum UKMW15, showed a surplus profit of £2,606.97 as shown in Figures 1 and 2 below.

figure-1_ukmw15-expenditure          figure-2-ukmw15-income


Financial Health
The Balance Sheet shows that at the end of 2015 the Museums Computer Group had assets totalling £15,805.56. The group needs to consider how to best use these surplus funds to benefit the members.
Various approaches are now in place to better manage the surplus: the allocation of bursary places to the events (up to 5 per event); the sharing of profits with speakers after the event; and the subsidising of a drinks event at the Museums+Tech 2016 conference. The MCG 2016 Spring event in York was subsidised by the surplus funds by £1,505.26, and the Museums+Tech 2016 event is running without external sponsorship.

The MCG now has its own Natwest Debit card, which allows payments to be made online rather than via cheque on in branch transfer. This will reduce extra charges and allow more rapid and flexible payment options.

[Report by Ivan Teage, UK MCG Treasurer 2016]


Membership (Secretary’s report)
96 new individual members have registered in the past 12 months, and 2 new corporate members (from October 9th 2015 – October 9th 2016).

New membership is consistent throughout the year, although events provide a key way to attract new members: 15 new members joined when buying their ticket for the Spring Event in York, and 20 new members joined when purchasing for UKMW15.


These new members come from across over 80 organisations, including 3 who described themselves as freelance. As in previous years, this has been made up of a varied mix of museums, heritage, galleries, archives, libraries and universities, as well as those in private business, government or council representatives.

[Report by Katherine Biggs, UK MCG Secretary 2016]


We held two events in 2015/16: UKMW15 at the British Museum and our Spring event at the Hospitium in York.

UKMW15: Our annual conference was themed ‘Bridging gaps, Making connections’ and took place at the British Museum in London on 26th October 2015.

MCG’s Spring 2016 conference – ‘Life with Digital Projects’ – was held on 14th May 2016 at the Hospitium in York

A number of bursaries were made available for both events. Our ambition was to reach the wider museum community and to support individuals who may otherwise be unable to attend.

In return for the bursary stipend recipients were asked how they could assist on the day of the event but even more importantly how they could help disseminate the messages from the event to the wider community. Following a call for applicants, five recipients were selected to receive the bursaries for the Spring Event in order to support their attendance. This included free entry to the event and an additional £150 to support other expenses they would incur.

These recipients represented a broad range within the museum sector (including development officers, students, freelance workers and unwaged volunteers) and got involved in different capacities; one recipient chaired a panel session for example, whilst others supported the social media output on the day. Post-event the bursary awardees addressed the aim of sharing the event with the wider community by measures such as presenting the outcomes to colleagues, forwarding the information through their various networks or online via blogs (including the MCG blog).

A similar model is in place at Museums + Tech 2016.

[Report by Ina Pruegel, Brian Moss and Katherine Biggs]


The MCG Mailchimp list for event updates now has 1088 subscribers, up from the 205 subscribers in September 2015. This dramatic increase followed the Spring 2016 event and is the result of the committee adding to the list a backlog of addresses collected during event registration when the attendee elected to be added to the event mailing list. Engagement has remained high following the increase, with the list emails maintaining an open rate of 25-30% and a click rate of 5-7%.

The @ukmcg Twitter account how has over 3,600 followers, a 20% increase on last year. In August and September 2016 the account sent 113 tweets, resulting in 104 new followers, 2,231 profile views, 398 link clicks and 201 retweets. Our most popular content has been:

  • The launch of ticket sales for Museums+Tech 2016
  • Links to info about our conference speakers and blog posts about their work
  • Our call for volunteer helpers for the conference
  • Sharing job opportunities in the sector

The MCG community list ( is still an active discussion and collaboration forum. Stats for the period 1 October 2015 – 30 September 2016:

  • 1633 subscribers, at 3/10/2016 (1510 in 2014/5) – 8% increase
  • 1338 posts (1052 in 2014/5) – 27% increase
  • 388 people subscribed (308 in 2014/5) – 26% increase
  • 133 signed off the list (114 in 2014/5) – 17% increase

[Report by Jess Suess and Andrew Lewis]

Posted in AGM

All the info you need for MCG’s Museums+Tech 2016 at the Wellcome Collection on Wednesday

MCG Committee 2016

Dear Museums+Tech 2016 delegate,

The MCG Committee is looking forward to seeing you at the Wellcome Collection on October 19, 2016 for our Museums+Tech 2016 conference. Preparing this conference has been a big part of the committee’s work over the last year, along with our Spring event in York, engaging with the friendly, knowledgeable conversations on our discussion list, and advocating for best practice in museum technology.

Here’s some information to help you plan your day.


Conference registration starts in the Wellcome Collections’ Williams Lounge at 9:45 and runs to 10:10 for a 10:15am start. There’ll be refreshments to get you ready for a packed day, so get there early!

You don’t need to print your ticket, but it might be helpful to have the booking email on a device in case of any queries.


The Wellcome Collection is at 183 Euston Road, London, NW1 2BE. Here’s their ‘Getting here‘ page, with maps and transport information.


Talks begin at 10:15 and finish at 5pm. Our event page has the full timetable, plus links to speaker bios and talk abstracts.

We had such a good response to our call for proposals that we’re running a parallel session after lunchtime to fit more in. Everyone can choose between ‘Working in a Digital World’ and ‘Working with Collections’, but get there early if you want to guarantee a seat in your chosen session.

Most talks are in the main auditorium. However, if you bought a viewing room ticket after we sold out in September, please head to the Franks and Steel room for the plenary sessions.

Our AGM will be held during the extended lunch break. You can also use that time to explore exhibitions at Wellcome or join optional lunchtime tours of the Internet Archive’s book scanning centre.


We’ve ordered some delicious food for lunch, registration, morning and afternoon refreshment breaks. Half the catering order is vegetarian so you should have lots of choices at breaks and lunch. If you requested a special meal when you registered, it will be labelled and held for you.

Say hi and ask questions

Bring your questions and ideas! We’ve created lots of time for you to get talking with other attendees, and each session has plenty of time built in for questions. There’s free wifi so you can tweet, blog and share images to your heart’s content. We’ll be using the twitter hashtag #musetech16 and tweeting from @ukmcg on the day.

…and keep talking over a drink

You can keep the conversation going by joining us for a free drinks reception after the conference. The reception is open to anyone interested in digital heritage, so please share this invitation with your colleagues. Free tickets are available via Eventbrite:

Meet the Committee

Keep an eye out for the friendly committee team at the conference (and of course at the drinks reception), whether you have a question, ideas for MCG or just want to say hello, we look forward to speaking with you on the day. To help you spot us in the crowd, our pictures are below. To find out more about the committee, who we are and what we do, check out the Committee page on the MCG website.

MCG Committee 2016

We’re excited to see you on Wednesday!

Mia Ridge

Chair, Museums Computer Group
on behalf of the MCG Committee and Museums+Tech 2016 team

Posted in Current Events, Current Events, Event-Category, Events, UKMW

#musetech16 Keynote Q&A: Shelley Bernstein

Keynote speaker Shelley Bernstein
Keynote speaker Shelley Bernstein

Keynote speaker Shelley Bernstein

The closing keynote for our Museums+Tech 2016 conference is Shelley Bernstein, Chief Experience Officer at the Barnes Foundation. You’ll know her work at Brooklyn Museum including the mobile live Q&A app ASK Brooklyn Museum, crowd-curation projects Split Second, Click! and GO and more. We’re looking forward to her discussion of the challenges of moving between two very different museums, deploying short-term solutions while working towards institutional change and longer-level strategies, and her shift from ‘digital’ to Chief Experience Officer.

We asked our keynotes to answer some questions to help you get to know them before their talks.


Mia: Which upcoming or emerging challenges are you most excited to see museums tackle in the next five to ten years?

Shelley: Growing relationships with every visitor is going to be key. We’ve finally got the tools to do this with CRM [customer relationship management] and ticketing products on the market, but the question will be how we engage visitors both during their visit and after using these systems as the place to bring the data together.


Mia: Which challenges might be the hardest to deal with?

Shelley: I think we’ve seen some great engagement products hit the floor in recent years, but figuring out how to staff for long term engagement and relationships is going to be difficult, but of vital importance as we bring products to scale.


Mia: What are you most looking forward to at the conference?

Shelley: Well, a few things.  I’m psyched to be talking about my new role at the Barnes Foundation and all the work we are just getting started.  It’s the first time I’ll be talking about this role in front of an audience, so that’s daunting, but, also, really fun. Connecting with UK colleagues.  And getting to swim at the Zaha Hadid designed olympics Aquatics Center.


Mia: What can UK museums and heritage organisations learn from international projects, and vice versa? Or should we be looking to other industries or sectors instead?

Shelley: I think, no matter what, we should all be looking outside the sector for inspiration. So often, audience are relating to those examples first, so keeping an eye there feels right.  I think there’s a ton we can learn from each other, too, especially because our models of funding are so different and our communities are different as well.  I always find sparks in differences as inspiration often more than commonalities. It’s another reason why I wanted to come say hello.


Posted in Current Events, Current Events, Event-Category, Events, UKMW

#musetech16 Keynote Q&A: Sebastian Deterding

Our opening keynote, Sebastian Deterding
Our opening keynote, Sebastian Deterding

Our opening keynote, Sebastian Deterding

The opening keynote for our Museums+Tech 2016 conference is Sebastian Deterding. Sebastian is a designer and researcher working on playful and motivational design who’ll 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.

We asked our keynotes to answer some questions to help you get to know them before their talks.


Mia: Which upcoming or emerging challenges are you most excited to see museums tackle in the next five to ten years?

Sebastian: As an outsider game and experience designer, my clueless, naive, and totally biased dream is that museums find ways to become experiential and narrative spaces to make the physical visit count, in the same way musicians realised that in a world of digital ubiquity, the one thing that can’t be copied and shared is the experience of being on a live concert. Basically, how can a museum visit be like a piece of immersive theatre or environmental storytelling? Stoking curiosity, atmosphere, emotion, planting stories and cues in my head I want to pursue without being obtrusive or eyeing everyone through the same fixed plot and spatial path or heavy interaction.


Mia: Which challenges might be the hardest to deal with?

Sebastian: I’ve been to a couple of big and small special exhibitions that come close to what I envision, but that’s always easier if you can conceive things from scratch: how to make standing exhibitions and archives experiential? That’s gonna be the tough nut.


Mia: What are you most looking forward to at the conference?

Sebastian: Corny, but: the people! And seeing their world through their words – I’m really curious to learn what excites everyone in museum technology, what angers, what challenges, what counts, what’s passé. When you go to a conference in your home field, change is so slow to be imperceptible. But enter a different community, and your mind is buzzing from being rubbed against a whole new, slightly alien world.


Mia: What can UK museums and heritage organisations learn from international projects, and vice versa? Or should we be looking to other industries or sectors instead?

Sebastian: I can’t speak to international projects, but I really, really believe good writing is having a deserved renaissance across design disciplines, and could be hugely beneficial to museums and heritage as well. In games, everyone thought interactive fiction was a dead end, until Telltale Games came along with their Walking Dead series which basically said: what if we don’t try to come up with fancy new design or tech and rather double down on writing: believable and strong characters, good dialogue, intriguing plot. The experience is simply transformative.

Posted in Current Events, Current Events, Event-Category, Events, UKMW
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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