MCG’s Spring 2016 conference – ‘Life with Digital Projects’

This event is over – find out What you missed at our #MCGprojects conference.

spring2016

Join us at York’s historic Hospitium (just a few minutes walk from York station) on 6 May to find out about how other museums have developed digital projects with lasting impact. Integrating digital resources and skills into the everyday work of museums isn’t easy, but it’s easier when you have support. Learn from colleagues throughout the country about how they have approached similar issues to those you are currently tackling, how they overcame them, and how their findings could inform your future work.

Timetable

10.15-10.45 Registration with tea and coffee

10.45-11.00 Chair’s Welcome (Dr. Mia Ridge, Chair, MCG / Digital Curator, British Library) and Venue Welcome (Martin Fell, York Museums Trust)

11.00-11.45 Keynote: Charlotte Sexton, ‘Life post-launch: how to tackle a digital hangover’

11.45-12.45 Session 1: working in context

Chair: Jennifer Ross

  • Reverse engineering the updateatron! Mark Pajak, Head of Digital, Bristol Museums
  • Taking ownership of digital exhibitions Jennifer Townshend, Digital Content Editor, and Dan Q, Web & CMS Developer, Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford
  • The DiNAR project: Meaningful Mixed Reality for Heritage Gareth Beale, Researcher, Centre for Digital Heritage/Digital Creativity Labs, University of York

12.45-13.45 Lunch (with optional museum visit)

13.45-14.45 Session 2: working with others – part I

Chair: Jo Pugh

  • From Digital Beaver to Digital Diva Graham Davies, Digital Programmes Manager, Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales
  • Sharing knowledge for digital sustainability Ivan Teage, Digital Development Manager, Natural History Museum
  • Adrift on a Silver Sea: Developing HLF funded digital projects with purpose Lucy Yates, Programme Manager, and Chris King, Digital Programmes Producer, National Maritime Museum

14.45-15.15 Tea and coffee

15:15-16:00 Session 3: working with others – part II

Chair: Jennifer Layton

  • Digal – just add ‘IT’ Anjanesh Babu, Systems Architect and Network Manager, Oxford University Museums
  • Don’t get a plumber they said. You’ll save lots of money they said. Andrew Larking, Creative Director, and Simon Wakeman, Managing Director, Deeson

16.00-16:45 Closing debate: ‘outsourcing digital heritage projects is more harm than help’

Chair: Kath Biggs

With Nick Clarey, CEO, Atrium / Airsource, Simon Wakeman, Chris King and Mark Pajak.

17.00 – continue the conversation with #DrinkingAboutMuseums at The Maltings – all welcome!

Programme abstracts

Keynote: Charlotte Sexton, ‘Life post-launch: how to tackle a digital hangover’

Charlotte Sexton is a digital strCharlotteSexton2014Crop-1ategist and independent consultant for the museum, heritage and cultural sectors. She specialises in supporting organisations to transform and modernise by bringing digital thinking to the very heart of their philosophical and working practice. Moving organisations beyond a ‘digital strategy’ she has helped them to share their stories, connect with audiences and support their essential day-to-day activities through more effective use of digital media.

Formally President of MCN, an international peer network for museum professionals, she understands the new opportunities and challenges facing cultural organisations and their staff as they attempt to adapt to an increasingly digitally driven world.

As Head of Digital Media at the National Gallery, London she defined the organisation’s digital ambitions and transformed the way the public could engage with the Gallery’s world-class art collection using new digital technologies – whether physically in the museum, online or using mobile devices.

With more than 20 years experience creating and managing complex digital projects she is highly skilled in her field and is frequently asked to share her expertise both in the UK and internationally, through consulting, lecturing and presenting at conferences. She has also been published in “Museum Ideas: Innovation in Theory and Practice” published by Museum Identity.

Session 1: working in context

Reverse engineering the updateatron!
Mark Pajak, Head of Digital, Bristol Museums

Over the last 10 years we have been living with legacy flash based interactives developed as part of large project museum or gallery openings. As technology and the expectations of our visitors have superseded the capabilities of these systems, we have been working to redevelop them into html web apps – a task that has meant working out how to bring closed systems into the fold of our main collections management system. Having completed this task we are more agile and can adapt to our users needs – our content is portable – but we now have new challenges as visitors expect a multi touch experience – do we need to go back to the developers and start the whole thing again?

Taking ownership of digital exhibitions
Dan Q, Web & CMS Developer, and Jennifer Townshend, Digital Content Editor, Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford

In 2015 the Weston Library in Oxford reopened after a three-year renovation as a special collections library which provided visitors with fully-accessible public spaces for the first time. This included new exhibition galleries and display cases. As part of the renovation project, Samsung supported the Library with a gift of state-of-the-art hardware and bespoke software. This hardware provided the opportunity for digital signage and interactive displays in both the public and reader areas.

Using the Samsung platform to deliver engaging exhibition content made us run up against some limitations early on – it provided little scope for customization, locked us into a particular way of working and required a skillset that isn’t within the remit of the current Digital Communications staff. Furthermore, it didn’t enable us to fulfil our vision of providing highly interactive exhibition content.

To overcome these limitations we developed our own system and process, based upon modern offline web technologies delivered through locked down kiosk browsers, for providing digital exhibition content. We are leveraging the existing skillset of our Digital Communications team to develop engaging digital interactive experiences in a cost-effective and sustainable manner. We will present the approach we’ve taken, the lessons learned and will share the tools we’ve developed in-house.

The DiNAR project: Meaningful Mixed Reality for Heritage
Gareth Beale, Researcher, Centre for Digital Heritage/Digital Creativity Labs, University of York

Mixed reality technologies, including virtual reality and augmented reality, are increasingly affordable and easy to use. However, the availability of technology does not necessarily justify its use. The DiNAR project aims to examine the underlying affordances of mixed reality in a heritage setting and to propose new models for use which reflect the needs of the sector.  We are working with a network of museums to design, build and evaluate compelling narrative and game-like experiences which are embedded into the urban landscape.  In this presentation I will present the findings of our first research and testing event which took place at the University of York from 3rd-5th May 2016.

Session 2: working with others – part I

From Digital Beaver to Digital Diva
Graham Davies, Digital Programmes Manager, Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales

Using a wide range of practical examples along with the odd analogy, this presentation will deconstruct what we think of as a ‘good digital idea’ and explain how experiences at Amgueddfa Cymru have helped shape a new way of thinking for the digital team there.

I will explain some of the practical quick wins you can do in order to start embedding digital skills throughout your organization, and so beginning the journey away from the assumptions that digital teams are responsible for everything digital. I will conclude that digital teams can empower content creators by embedding digital skills, and so spread a culture of user centric thinking, not just for digital but for all our outputs.

Sharing knowledge for digital sustainability
Ivan Teage, Digital Development Manager, Natural History Museum

This presentation looks at knowledge management in the digital context, and how best to handover and retain those vital bits information to keep things moving smoothly. What really motivates people to share and to adopt lessons learned – why do conflicts of interest arise and how can these be managed? Does ‘Agile’ practice make keeping track of critical information more difficult?

Ivan will go over some of the common problems we all face in managing the specialist information we need to work digitally, look at some solutions, and present his recently completed original MSc research investigating knowledge-sharing methods and processes within technology development teams at the Natural History Museum. By exploring the findings and realities of what really works and what doesn’t the audience are given a fresh look at digital project and product support.

Adrift on a Silver Sea: Developing HLF funded digital projects with purpose
Lucy Yates, Programme Manager, and Chris King, Digital Programmes Producer, National Maritime Museum

Travellers’ Tails, our four year HLF-funded programme, has developed a digital interactive which unites the collections of four partner museums. This allows users to journey over a silver sea and make their own collection of objects from each island they visit. The interactive also draws on research carried out with CEDE at UCL into using digital empathy to engage users.

Our talk will explore what it’s like to develop a complicated digital interactive, which is also supposed to be a research project, on the go. This will also explore the challenges of working with four separate partner museums whilst trying to involve a university-based research collaborator. This presentation will explore both the project management and technical side.

Session 3: working with others – part II

Digal – just add ‘IT’
Anjanesh Babu, Systems Architect and Network Manager, Oxford University Museums

Projects without attention to foundational resources at the start may be doomed to languish in the zone of obsolescence, facing skills shortages and introducing security risks at the enterprise level as underlying operating systems and modules remain unsupported – aka the ‘graveyard orbit’.

It is crucial for key stakeholders to be grounded in technical reality bringing the “IT” back in Digital. IT could point out all too predictive costly curves that may not be apparent from the euphoric project start perspective. Too often; when IT are involved, it is late for any meaningful guidance leading to the typical ‘slow IT’ feedback or stamped as naysayers. Learning from current technology can deliver better Digital resources and understanding Digital requirements can ensure capacity planning for IT – a two way process.

Confluence of ideals enabling technologies at a fundamental level not only stokes Digital innovation, but also provides creative leverage from new technology resulting in exponential institutional gain.

Don’t get a plumber they said. You’ll save lots of money they said.
Andrew Larking, Creative Director, and Simon Wakeman, Managing Director, Deeson

Once the gallery has gone live and the customers are in the door the project wrap up happens. What lessons can be learned? What would you do differently next time? Where were the pain points? Everybody gently manoeuvring around the awkward stuff that put the project into a tailspin. And then somebody asks the question – “would we have experienced less friction if we delivered that in house?” Or “would you have experienced less friction if we had agency help with that part of the project?” It’s a loaded question. It offers an easy way out.
Our experience tells us the culture and heritage sector needs to work with agencies to deliver compelling digital. It also tells us that unless you find the right agency, and learn what it means to be a good client, you are going to have a difficult time and you’ll be asking the wrong questions again in the next wash up meeting.
Here’s how to find and hire an agency who fits your project requirements, and how best to work with them once they are on board.

 

Closing debate: ‘outsourcing digital heritage projects is more harm than help’.

What are the pros and cons of outsourcing digital projects? Is outsourcing digital heritage projects is more harm than help, or the opposite true? This lively, interactive session will close the day in style!

Debaters include Nick Clarey, CEO, Atrium / Airsource.

About our Spring 2016 workshop theme

Museums have invested in digital projects for exhibitions, events, audience interactions, collections management and more. Core budgets rarely stretch to major website rebuilds, developing new digital interactives, creating online collections portals or launching a digital picture library. But, fortunately, myriad funders, from government to trusts and foundations to philanthropists, are willing to provide project funding for museums to complete this necessary work. But what happens the day after a project launches? How do museums integrate project activity into their core business? How do individual projects impact on the museums and organisational practice as a whole? And a year after launch, what traces remain of the lessons learnt?

About the Museums Computer Group

Since its founding in 1982, the Museums Computer Group’s events have been an important part of the UK heritage sector. MCG events are an opportunity to learn from experts and peers, and like many others, this event’s theme was partly inspired by discussion on our practitioners’ list. 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. We will also host an evening event open to all so you can continue the conversations started during the day.

Event contacts

Event management: Brian Moss, Katherine Biggs
Programme: Mia Ridge, Jessica Suess, Sarah Middle, Brian Moss
Marketing: Rosie Clarke, Sarah Middle
Bursaries: Brian Moss
Sponsorship: Ivan Teage

To get in touch, please use the contact form.

All this takes place in York’s 14th century Hospitium, a two-storey listed building set within the beautiful Museum Gardens, overlooked by the striking ruins of St Mary’s Abbey.

Make an investment in your museum’s digital future, and attend an event packed with practical tips and realistic solutions. Connect with colleagues from around the country, to share best practice on sustainable ways of working. Return to your organisation with new ideas and energy to apply to your projects.

What did people say about our Spring 2015 event?

Sign up for the MCG events newsletter.

Previous Spring events

This event is over – find out What you missed at our #MCGprojects conference.

Save

@ukmcg on Twitter
@ukmcg

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

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!