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

An update from the MCG Committee: What We Do

In our last blog post, we introduced some of the new and existing committee members of the MCG. As you can tell, there are quite a few active committee members working together to run the Museums Computer Group and connect, support and inspire the museum technology sector.

But what does it actually take to run the MCG? What goes on behind the scenes of the Museums+Tech conferences and the discussion list?

There are three specific ‘executive’ roles within the Committee. Mia Ridge, as the MCG Chair, is responsible for leading both the Museums Computer Group and the Committee. Katherine Biggs is the Treasurer for the MCG and is responsible for the organisation’s finances. Jessica Suess is the MCG’s Secretary and helps the Chair with the administration of the MCG Committee and its responsibilities. But, of course, Mia, Katherine and Jessica do far more than that – as does the MCG Committee as a whole.

The majority of the other day-to-day tasks for running the MCG are divided amongst the various committee members. These tasks include managing the discussion list, which is mostly administered by Andrew Lewis. Others manage our social media platforms, from Twitter to LinkedIn, and our website. At times, we take on special projects that will benefit our members. Committee members, particularly the Chair, liaise with funders and sector bodies including DCMS, the Arts Council, Culture24, HLF and more, to discuss the challenges and opportunities that digital brings for museums and other cultural heritage bodies.

The Committee also develops, manages and delivers various events throughout the year, including the upcoming Museums+Tech 2017 Conference. Within these events the committee sets a theme, manages a Call for Proposals, gathers speakers, sources and liaises with venues, organises reviewers for conference proposals, advertises the conference, organises bursaries to enable unwaged/student delegates to attend, uses social media to share delegates’ coverage of events, compiles event reports as a record of the event, and generally works together to deliver the best possible experience for delegates.

Through these activities, the Committee supports the MCG, and its community, to foster discussion and debate through events, social media and on the email discussion list. With over 1700 members and archives dating back to 1998, the MCG discussion list is an important platform for peer support. Posters can receive expert and unbiased advice from a huge range of members in organisations all over the country.

Before the AGM, we’ll be opening up applications for positions on the general Committee. Joining the committee is a fantastic opportunity to develop skills – from event planning to social media content creation. It also gives you a chance to meet and work with some fantastic people from across the UK.

This year, Mia will also be finishing her second and final term as Chair of the MCG, meaning that the Committee will be appointing a new Chair during the AGM at this year’s Museums+Tech Conference. We will be opening up applications for the position of Chair in the coming weeks. It will be a fantastic opportunity to help steer the Museums Computer Group, advocate for our members, and lead the sector in a time of change over the next three to six years – building on the work done by Mia and the Chairs before her. If you would like to know more about the role and perhaps nominate yourself for election as Chair, please email Mia via our Contact page.

Hopefully, through these last few blog posts, you’ve gained a greater understanding of the Museums Computer Group, and the Committee. If you’re interested in joining the Committee and we’ve not answered your questions in these last few blog posts, you’re always welcome to ask us via email or leave a comment below!

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Save £25 by booking your Museums+Tech conference ticket before Sunday 3rd September


We sent an update about Museums+Tech 2017 to events newsletter subscribers this morning. Missed out? Sign up here!


Save £25 by booking your Museums+Tech conference ticket before Sunday 3rd September.


Early bird tickets sales for MCG’s 2017 conference: Museums and tech in a divided world end 3 September.


Eventbrite - MCG's Museums+Tech 2017

Members tickets are just £95 before September 3 – they’ll be £120 afterwards. Non-members tickets are £150. Concession tickets are available for £47.50. Our events usually sell out and over half the tickets have already been snapped up, so don’t delay! Book via Eventbrite today.

Not a member? Find out more about the other benefits to becoming a Museums Computer Group member on our website. Not sure if you’re currently a member? Just tick the box when buying your ticket.

Museums+Tech 2017 will be held in London at the Imperial War Museum on 3 November 2017. Don’t forget to stick around after the main event for drinks and a chance to chat with more colleagues from across the sector.


Eventbrite - MCG's Museums+Tech 2017

Don’t miss your chance to hear 18 brilliant presentations, be inspired by some cutting edge projects, and network with local, regional, national and international peers.

Learn with speakers from organisations including National Museums Scotland, Anne Frank House, Oxford University Museums, Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, London Metropolitan Archives, Historic Royal Palaces, National Maritime Museum and a range of universities and digital agencies. Find out more about our speakers – who are you most excited about hearing speak?

We’ve got an action packed programme for Museums+Tech 2017, with some fantastic international speakers lined up to share their experience with you. Discover the secrets of messenger bots for controversial subjects, and explore the workings of fake news with the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision. Find out about contactless donations, creating powerful visitor experiences, and ask yourself – could my museum host live escape games? Learn from projects using sound, touch and 3D printing in galleries, accessibility techniques and innovative twists on existing technologies – and there’s more on the full programme! As always, our conference is a chance to reflect on the impact of digital technologies on heritage organisations, and return to work with fresh energy and inspiration.


Eventbrite - MCG's Museums+Tech 2017
As part of our commitment to the sector, volunteer opportunities (with funds for travel) are available for emerging museum professionals – get valuable experience while helping spread the impact of our event.
Find out more about our fantastic line up of speakers, where they are coming from and what they’ll share.
Want to know more about our events? Check out talks and reports from Museums+Tech 2016, Spring 2016 and UKMW15.







Posted in Uncategorized

Welcome to the new National Galleries of Scotland website

We’re always delighted to host updates from the museum technology community. This guest post is by Ashley Beamer, Technical Project Manager/Product Owner, and Christopher Ganley, Content and Design Manager, at the National Galleries of Scotland.

Our transformation of the new National Galleries of Scotland website ( began in early 2016 in response to the Digital Engagement Strategy which focuses on improved digital access to our collection and services. The previous website had limitations, with only 6% of our collections online, and a complete overhaul was required so our main digital platform was fit for our audiences.

Although this new website has been in development for over a year we’ve released new functionality often, as part of our user story based Agile approach.

New Content Management System (CMS) and Underlying Architecture

We were keen for our new systems architecture to be based on free open source technologies wherever possible giving us the flexibility to keep the technology up to date and ensuring a high degree of portability.

We wanted an architecture that included middleware to pull together the images from our digital asset management system and records from our collection management system, and feed this data through to the new CMS. We required a fast search interface that could handle the queries on our 92,000+ records as well as tailored faceted filtering queries as selected by the user.

We wanted a simple-to-use administrative interface with a high degree of frontend flexibility to allow us to create beautifully designed custom pages.

In the end we built the system using a Drupal install for our middleware, a separate Drupal install for the CMS, both on the Acquia platform, as well as Drupal Commerce, CiviCRM, Amazon S3 cloud storage for our dissemination images, and Apache Solr search.

New and Improved Design

We were very interested in focusing on colours in the new website and wanted to use them carefully while at the same time allowing the artwork to be in the forefront. The new design uses colours to complement the artwork pages by programatically identifying them from the images as they are processed. Colour extraction methods are also used in other areas of the site including on Feature pages, exhibitions and events.

For the new development we took a user and data driven approach to improve the interface, functionality and accessibility, and to provide an easy-to-use interface for the public. Focusing on user journeys and experience we considered analytics gathered from our old website as well as usage on any new developments.

We took a mobile first responsive design approach, reflecting the changing behaviour of users, to ensure that the website is performant and responsive on handheld devices.

Agile Development

Using an Agile method of software development, namely Scrum and Kanban, we ensured code releases that took place quickly and often. This methodology meant that we could respond quickly to newly gathered requirements and remain focused on high priority tasks.

We took requirements, prioritised them, and created user stories and acceptance criteria to discuss with the UX/design team and developers. We developed using two week sprints with sprint planning and refinement, daily standups, and retrospectives.

Starting in July 2016 we have had a series of both major and minor launches to include the following pieces of functionality:

The Collections (July 2016 launch)

Our main focus initially was to get the full national art collection published online to be enjoyed by the public.

A complimentary sister project at the Galleries focuses on the digitisation of our artworks. With this digitisation project underway in 2015 we were able to plan for the inclusion of the art collection online as well as a significant number of digital images. As artworks are photographed they are ingested into the digital asset management system where they can go through the rights clearance process and be flagged to go online.

Two years ago, before the digitisation project started, we had circa 6,000 artwork records from our collection online, where each record included an image. When we launched the new collections website in July we were able to publish over 92,000 records, exposing our permanent collection and long term loans. By that point in the digitisation schedule we were able to include images for 30,000 records. With the continuation of the project, this number continues to climb daily and currently we have over 50,000 images online.

The collections part of the website allows the user to free text search or search by tags such as artist, artwork, subject. We also included a browse facility to let users select a series of filters to hone in on particular artworks of interest.

On an individual artwork page you can access deeper contextual information like audio and video content, and explore different avenues through related information. Artwork images can be shared, downloaded, and favourited. Due to our high resolution imagery, users can also use a zoom tool to get a close up view of the images.

The July 2016 launch also included the option for users to order artworks as prints. This meant the development of a print selection tool which lets a customer select the artwork they want, the size, the print paper, and frame colour. It also meant the development of a simple to use basketing system and checkout process.

Features (October 2016 launch)

Next came Features. Features are longer form unique quality articles that focus on artworks, artists, projects, and themes. They include text, images and other media, providing a significant learning resource about the collection. The ‘story-telling’ nature of Features, with relationships to other types of content, attempts to create intuitive and enjoyable user journeys.

We developed Features to be have an element of flexibility when being administered by creating ‘lanes’ of content, allowing staff to customise pages for publication, incorporating different content types.

Online Shop (November 2016 launch)

Approaching the end of 2016 we decided to develop and release the online shop. With the checkout process already in place for prints purchase, the new gift shop simply slotted into the functionality as a new ‘product type’.

With the online shop fully integrated, we were able to move away from a separate shop microsite and provide an interface where the user can purchase multiple products types from different parts of the site. The new unified basketing system was an important building block to have in place for the upcoming development which included ticketing, membership, and donation purchasing.

Visit (December 2016 launch)

The new visit section is aimed at members of the public who want to physically visit one of the galleries. Our goal was to create a clean and simple interface where all relevant information could be found quickly and easily from any device.

Exhibitions and Events (March 2017 launch)

The inclusion of the exhibitions and events was one of the final pieces of the redevelopment.

We wanted to bring together all of the information and related content about a particular exhibition onto a single beautifully custom designed page.

Our exhibitions listing page aims to differentiate between short term temporary exhibitions and longer term permanent collection displays.

For paid temporary exhibitions we now offer online e-ticketing so members of the public can purchase tickets ahead of time and better plan their National Galleries of Scotland visit.

Events are now simple to navigate and allow the user to filter by audience, type of event, and gallery location, as well as date range. Event pages offer online booking for free stock controlled events as well as e-ticket purchasing for paid events.

Donations, Memberships (March 2017 launch)

Our new Support section of the website offers information on how to become more involved with the Galleries. This includes an online donation facility as well as a range of ‘Our Friends’ membership packages including student, solo, duo, and philanthropic memberships.

What’s next?

With a long list of further developments that we’d like to undertake in the coming year, we have three main priorities: introduce artist pages to provide a fantastic learning resource (due to launch in September/October 2017), undertake further usability testing to continually make improvements, and work to improve and standardise our data with a view to making collection information more open and accessible through our digital channels.

We are very excited about the new website and with the architecture now in place we are able to enter into a new phase of digital engagement at the Galleries.

Special thanks to the talented team at Cello Signal, Edinburgh (, whose hard work helped to get us where we are now.








Posted in Guest posts on cultural heritage technologies

WE NEED YOU! Volunteer Positions for Museums+Tech 2017

MCG’s Museums+Tech 2017 with the theme of ‘Tech in a divided world’ is shaping up to be a great event. We are confident that attendees at this year’s event in the Imperial War Museum will come away both inspired and challenged by the day. We also want to make sure the messages emerging from our 2017 ‘Museums+Tech’ conference are not limited to those in attendance but shared widely in the sector. This reflects our constant ambition to reach and engage new audiences. To help us achieve this we have a small number of volunteer positions available.

In return for your assistance, you will be provided with free entry to Museums+Tech 2017 and an additional £100 to cover travel and other expenses – plus it looks great on your CV!


Through these volunteer positions we hope to specifically support individuals who may otherwise be unable to attend. In particular, we would greatly welcome applications from unwaged/low-waged individuals, those in small museums, early career professionals and students.

Apply by completing the short application form by 15th September:


We are interested in hearing how you can help us reach new audiences and help everyone learn from our speakers. You can be as creative or as traditional as you like, as we hope to reach as broad an audience as possible. In the past we have had volunteers use social media and blogs, submit reports to specialist publications and share information with local colleagues. In addition, if you can contribute skills such as photography, social media, or anything else you think would be relevant on the day, then please let us know in the application.

We will respond to successful applicants by 22nd September.

If you have any questions about volunteering please email Brian (


You can view the full programme for Museums+Tech2017 here:

For a sense of what to expect, catch up on the events from Museums+Tech2016 on our website: – This includes reports from our previous volunteers, find out how they assisted us in delivering Museums+Tech2016 and their thoughts on the experience!

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Posted in Events

MCG community praised for ‘valuable insights’ in Audience Agency newsletter

It made my day to see our fabulous community of email discussion list members mentioned in the Audience Agency’s Katie Moffat’s ‘Digital Snapshot’ newsletter:

The Museums Computer Group has an email discussion group that frequently throws up valuable insights, for example, this discussion about how museums (and other arts orgs) can work with influencers. Related aside: I highly recommend their annual tech conference, there is always a great list of speakers.

Thanks to all our posters for their questions and responses that help so many people in the sector learn from their peers. With over 1700 members and posts dating back to 1998, the MCG discussion list archives are a great place to start if you’ve got a question about technology in museums. Topics discussed in the last six weeks alone include: Bringing collections together, Digital Archives and Archaeology, intranets, eCommerce / Shopify, games in libraries, social media influencers, ticketing and membership systems, support for old web browsers, contactless donation, VR on a budget, maintaining gallery interactives, 3D digitisation, crowdsourcing, Minecraft, manuscript digitisation, and managing a rebrand.

If your question hasn’t already been answered, just subscribe to post and start a new topic!

Speaking of our annual ‘Museums+Tech’ conference – over half the tickets are already sold, so get moving if you don’t want to miss an excellent day at the IWM in November.

Posted in Uncategorized
@ukmcg on Twitter

on Twitter

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

  • RT @NationalGallery: We are looking for a User Experience Researcher to join the Gallery. Find out more about the role here:…
  • RT @NationalGallery: We are looking for a Senior Programme Manager to join the Gallery. Learn more about the role here:…
  • RT @NationalGallery: We are looking for a Senior Product Manager to join the Gallery. Find out more about the role here:…
  • RT @amyjokim: "Upgrade your user, not your product... make people better at something they want to get better at." - Kathy Sierra
  • RT @UkNatArchives: We're looking for a Web Archiving Assistant to join our team. #jobs #archives
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