The Museums Computer Group’s annual conference was held at the Flett Theatre in the Natural History Museum on Friday November 7 2014. The theme for UKMW14 was ‘Museums Beyond the Web’.

Update: check our ‘UKMW14 round-up: reports, tweets, slides and images’ post for event reports, videos, photos, and more.


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Registration with tea and coffee will start at 9:15 for a 10am start and we’ll be out of the venue by 6pm. Start the fun early – come along to #drinkingaboutmuseums the night before. We often continue the conversation after the conference too – grab something to eat or drink, and continue the conversation…

UKMW14 keynotes: George Oates and Ross Parry

George Oates

George Oates

Dr Ross Parry

Dr Ross Parry

We are delighted to announce George Oates as opening keynote speaker at UKMW14. As creator of Flickr Commons, she’s had a huge impact on the cultural sector and we’re looking forward to her long view on the digital heritage sector.

Our closing keynote, the University of Leicester’s Dr Ross Parry, is a deeply thoughtful scholar whose reflections on the ‘post-digital museum’ will resonate with many of us.

The programme abstracts and further details are below.


UKMW14 Programme

Registration starts before the museum is open, so please come in via the Flett Entrance on Exhibition Road.

9:15-9:45 Registration and tea, coffee
10:00-10.10 Chair’s Welcome (Mia Ridge, MCG), venue welcome (Ivan Teage, Natural History Museum)
10:10-10:50 Opening Keynote: George Oates
10.50-11.20 Tea and coffee break

Experiences Beyond the Screen

Chaired by Martha Henson
Google Glass at the MIT Museum: a Visitor Experience Study, Marco Mason, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and University of Leicester

Immersive and Pervasive: Museums in Virtual Reality, Tara Copplestone

meSch – Material Encounters with Digital Cultural Heritage, Daniela Petrelli, Sheffield Hallam University

12:20-1:30 Lunch
12:20-12:50 MCG AGM (lunch will be provided in the room for AGM attendees)
1:30-2:15 Lightning talks

Mobile Beyond the Museum

Chaired by Jessica Suess
Box of Delights, Alex Butterworth, Oxford University Museums

Piloting a mobile collection in the landscape, Anna Rhodes, Buxton Museum and Art Gallery and Ben Bedwell, University of Nottingham/Wander Anywhere

On Dartmoor nobody can hear you Google, Rick Lawrence, Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery (RAMM)

3:15-3:45 Tea and coffee

Connections Beyond the Organisation

Chaired by Martin Bazley
Centenary Connections: connecting stories of the First World War, Rebecca Bartlett, Ammba / Nymbol

Methods for linking real world data, Stephen Brown, De Montfort University

Let them speak, Oluwatoyin Sogbesan

4.45-5.30 Closing Keynote: Dr Ross Parry
5:30-5:40 Wrap-up and close
5:45pm Continue the conversation afterwards in a nearby pub…

Programme details

Experiences Beyond the Screen

Digital media is escaping even the flat screen of mobile phones. Wearable technology and the new generation of virtual reality offer radically immersive experiences: can these easily become part of the everyday museum experience? Chaired by Martha Henson.

Google Glass at the MIT Museum: a Visitor Experience Study

Marco Mason, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and University of Leicester

The adoption of Google Glass within museums is in its infancy. How can it facilitate visitor engagement? What are the limitations? What are the opportunities? In a partnership sponsored by the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program at the MIT, the MIT Museum collaborated with a Media Lab student to realize and test a Glassware prototype. Both the design issues and the visitor feedback offer the opportunity to reflect on the design of a new kind of  museum experience.

Immersive and Pervasive: Museums in Virtual Reality

Tara Copplestone

How could new technologies such as the Oculus Rift become the core of a digital museum experience? They have the potential to fundamentally alter the way we mediate our interactions with the internet and this paper will explore a handful of the potentials and pitfalls for this new media format.

meSch – Material Encounters with Digital Cultural Heritage

Daniela Petrelli, Sheffield Hallam University

The meSch project aims to bridge the gap between visitors’ cultural heritage experience on-site and on-line by providing a platform for the creation of smart exhibits, with which heritage professionals can compose and realise physical artifacts enriched by digital content without the need for specialised technical knowledge.

Mobile Beyond the Museum

A smart phone can be so much more than an enhanced audioguide. This session takes us out of the gallery, onto the streets and beyond even a mobile signal, with practitioners pushing mobile technology to its limits and delivering new experiences. Chaired by Jessica Suess.

Lightning Talks

Deftly chaired by Oonagh Murphy, there’s no post-lunch snoozing with these Ignite-style rapid presentations, including:

  • It’s time to look up – iBeacons turning the physical world into the new digital channel; Jon Little, Kew
  • Engaging and interactive display of digitised images using the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF); Matt McGrattan, Bodleian Library, University of Oxford and Sean Martin, Independent
  • Tandi Williams will present the thought-provoking results of the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts Survey
  • The Collections Trust’s Nick Poole will inspire and provoke
  • Google’s Pierre Far will share Google’s perspective on mobile-friendly designs

Box of Delights

Alex Butterworth, Oxford University Museums

Box of Delights is a prototype iPhone app that delivers an emergent, geo-located narrative premised on the conceit of a mobile phone audio guide usurped by supernatural forces, whose voices are vying to be heard, a rich narrative experience for visitors that draws inspiration from the museums but takes place beyond their walls.

Piloting a mobile collection in the landscape

Anna Rhodes, Buxton Museum and Art Gallery and Ben Bedwell, University of Nottingham/Wander Anywhere

How to meet the potential of mobile to take collections out into the world, when you’re a small museums with a limited budget? Buxton Museum share their solution: creating a series of lightweight low-budget pilot mobile tours using WordPress alongside GPS technology, tested directly with the intended user groups.

On Dartmoor nobody can hear you Google

Rick Lawrence, Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery (RAMM)

In 2013 RAMM worked with the University of Exeter and 1010 media to deliver a mobile museum experience on Dartmoor, where there is often no mobile or data signal. The solution encouraged users to participate using their phone’s built in technologies and then make the most of any signal.

Connections Beyond the Organisation

The most important connections the web makes are the human ones. This session looks at how collaborative digital experiences are created between multiple organisations, how data itself can be better connected, and asks whose purpose digitisation ultimately serves. Chaired by Martin Bazley.

Centenary Connections: connecting stories of the First World War

Rebecca Bartlett, Ammba / Nymbol

Not every museum department is a digital department, but all departments take part in creating digital content. Imperial War Museum North (IWMN) and the Greater Manchester Centenary Partnership have delivered a connected digital experience across multiple organisations, empowering users to track the lives, stories and impact of WWI across Greater Manchester.

Methods for linking real world data

Stephen Brown, De Montfort University

Despite the promise of Linked Data, the majority of GLAM records are still unavailable in this format. This paper describes an alternative approach developed by the AHRC funded FuzzyPhoto project, based on semantic matching techniques and fuzzy logic based algorithms which reflect the kinds of choices made by human decision makers.

Let them speak

Oluwatoyin Sogbesan

Does digitisation in museum represent cultures in their true light or does photographic imaging only portray Western supremacy? This presentation focuses on the need for an inclusive participatory culture that will not only allow openness but also gives voice to the voiceless.

About UK Museums on the Web 2014: Museums Beyond The Web

Just when your museum thought it had figured out how to work on the web, everything goes and changes. Increasingly, our visitors’ online experiences are moving away from the humble browser and even from games and mobile apps. This year, the focus on technologies ‘beyond the web’ takes us beyond the everyday of ‘online’ and towards thinking about new experiences for visitors inside and outside museum environments. What do you need to know to navigate the challenges wearable, immersive, mobile and haptic technologies are going to throw at you? Come to UKMW14 to learn from the biggest technology companies and small museums working with limited budgets in just one inspiring day.

Digital museum professionals and the museum-curious alike will find UKMW14: Museums Beyond the Web a useful, interesting and enriching experience. Hear expert speakers, connect with other digital museum professionals and come away inspired to do bigger, greater things!

We are grateful to our sponsors for their support

With many thanks to our UKMW14 sponsors, Faversham & Moss


UKMW14 Venue sponsor, the National History Museum



Thank you

We’d like to thank the Programme Committee for UKMW14 who reviewed and commented on papers. In alphabetical order: Alyson Webb, Bhavani Esapathi, Claire Ross, Damian Etherington, Ivan Teage, Jessica Suess, Kim Plowright, Matthew Cock, Nick Poole, Rachel Coldicutt, Rebecca Atkinson, Sara Wajid, Seb Chan, Sharna Jackson, Suse Cairns. The UKMW14 Co-Chairs were Danny Birchall and Mia Ridge.

We’d also like to thank Museums Computer Group committee members for their hard work for this event, particularly Alison Bean, Danny Birchall, Dafydd James, Johanna Perez Strand, Julie Reynolds and Mia Ridge. Thanks to Michael Guthrie for organising the pre-UKMW14 #drinkingaboutmuseums. Finally, thanks to all the speakers, chairs and attendees for their contributions to the day!