Thursday, 30 April 2015

Museums and Heritage Show Part 2

It's the end of day two at the Museums and Heritage Show and I have to say that I have come out feeling quite reassured that the NT is considering everything it should be!

The first talk of the day was a Q&A session on tech for newbies.  A rather broad topic, which quickly focused on Twitter and Instagram.  There was nothing particularly new to learn here but it was nice to know that I am doing it right.  At the NT the social media is the remit of a member of the Marketing team so I don't feel like I need to know for my working life but I do use it professionally and am always careful of that distinction.  What was interesting though was the level of engagement that you need to have in order to get the most out of it - it is a social platform and so you need to be sociable.  If you schedule tweets then who is there to manage replies and engage in that socialising with users?

There was a sector update on HLF, which was jolly interesting as someone from an institution currently coming to the end of an HLF grant and as someone who was not involved in the application process.  The Head of the Museums, Libraries and Archives department took away some of the fear that has been instilled in me about grant applications.

Another interesting programme animal

The talk from Historic Royal Palaces' Digital Producer was really refreshing.  I was expecting him to champion all kinds of fancy and expensive technology but it was quite to the contrary.  Very sensibly he spoke about identifying your audience and matching your technology to your content and audience.  Most of the HRP visitors are against having screens in their visit as they visit palaces to take a trip back in time and suspend their contemporary baggage.  Another really fascinating point was that you should consider who your competition is on the platform in question eg. if you create a game for your museum, you will be in competition for downloads from the likes of Angry Birds - can you really compete?  He asked, have you ever seen someone playing on a museum app on their commute?  Nope, so perhaps you should focus your efforts elsewhere.  Another great takeaway point was that you should be giving your visitors the best museum experience they have ever had, not the worst iPad one they have ever had.  Very valid point and refreshing to see someone in his position being honest about where digital does and does not work.

I was genuinely flummoxed by cyclists' parking decisions...

I also went to talks on entrepreneurship in independent museums as well as how to 'do' retail, which were not terribly on topic for the National but interestingly talked about the same ideas that have been recurring over the two days:

  • know your aims and objectives
  • identify your audience
  • identify your learning objectives
  • use tools that suit the above

I am glad to say that the NT has these bases covered and the past six months of working on a couple of exhibitions, a new physical exhibition space and digital exhibition platform have taught us their importance.  You could say that I've had a baptism of fire into the world of exhibitions but I am encouraged and enthused that I, together with our Learning, Digital, Marketing and Commercial departments, am on track and thinking through the same issues, challenges and solutions as the rest of the heritage professions!

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