conference attendees

Please note that this is an archived event

MCG Spring 2015 event: ‘Innovation’: the Emperor’s new clothes?

Thursday May 14 2015

The 2015 Spring Event took place on 14 May 2015 at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge.

Museums are often told that digital projects need to be ground breaking in order to secure funding or capture the attention of the public and press. But what does this focus on the need for ‘innovation’ mean for the museums, and does it provide the best outcomes for organisations, funders or audiences?

MCG took on this debate at its 2015 spring event – challenging assumptions about innovative practice in museums; examining how some museums are achieving innovation and incorporating innovative practices into their ways of working; and exploring what funders mean when they use the term ‘innovation’ and how museums can engage with this agenda.


Doors open at 9.00am, registration from 9.30

10.00-10.15 – Welcome and introductions

10.15-11.00 – A history of media innovation in museums – Peter Pavement, Surface Impression
Peter provided an overview by exploring museums’ long track record of experimenting with media technology and what this can teach us today about what innovation is and how it can be managed in order to improve the “hit rate” of initiatives.

11.00-11.10 – Comfort Break

11.10-11.40 – Innovation from the ground up – a new form of R&D – Sejul Malde, Culture 24
Sejul drew on his previous experience in the corporate sector and offers a different perspective on innovation in the cultural sector.  He invited practitioners to look at their assets and content, and think how to repurpose to find innovative ways of reaching audiences, and to change their processes, rhythms and ways of working.

11.40-12.10 – Raise the Curtain: Revealing Collections in Edinburgh – Scott Renton & Claire Knowles, University of Edinburgh
This case study focuses on a project using a crowdsourced metadata ‘game’ to develop collections, and shows that once you have a process in place, it is not too creating engagement with your collections. The public can help solve your problem, provided you have coffee and somewhere for them to sit.

12.10-13.00 – Lunch 

13.00-13.30 – Prototyping ‘Innovation Lab’ – Lizzie Edwards, Samsung Digital Discovery Centre 
Digital tools such as tablets and smartphones were once considered innovative, but are now everyday technologies that guide peoples’ learning, experience and understanding of the world.  In this practical session led by Lizzie Edwards, the education manager of the Samsung Digital Discovery Centre at the British Museum, delegates explored how we can use technology to be innovative.

13.30-14.00 – Enabling Innovation – Jessica Suess, Oxford University Museums
Jess spoke about a programme activity at Oxford University Museums known as the ‘Innovation Fund’, which offers colleagues the space and modest funding to experiment with new ways of working. Jess shared how the programme was established and managed, and how participants are encouraged to come up with new ideas and form new collaborations. She mentioned some successful digital projects, and lessons learned.

14.00-14.30 – Coffee Break

14.30-15.00 – Lightning Talks

15.00-16.00 – Q&A Session with Funders
In this panel discussion, representatives from key funders addressed questions on innovation and other aspects of funding digital and other projects.

16.00 – Close, followed by…

Drinking about museums!!! in a local pub: come unwind and chat about the points that caught your attention during the day.

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