Before you ask, no I wasn’t going to elaborate lengths to skive off work by hiding in our fair capital; I was attending the Museum Computer Group Annual Conference earlier this month with Digital Team Leader Martin Fell (he can corroborate my story anyway).
As it was my first year at the conference I was keen to not only hear the thoughts of those speaking at the event but equally to take the opportunity to talk with my colleagues from various museums and institutions across the country to grasp what the current state of play is across the museum community.
Walking into possibly the reddest room I’ve ever seen in my life (the colour scheme was a shock to the senses at that time on a Friday) it was great to feel the buzz of conversation that you wouldn’t normally associate with a full day’s conferencing.
Tablets and smart phones were being feverishly tapped as twitter feeds were updated in anticipation of the day ahead.
I got the impression that the day was going to remove itself from the stereotypical image of a conference and I was looking forward to the old grey matter being well and truly put through its paces as thought provoking topics were floated around the room.
And so it proved as the day went on, from the opening speech by the Guardian’s Hannah Freeman on increasing community engagement online to crowd sourcing and an insight into the efforts by the BBC’s Research and Development team to archive its infinite archive of radio broadcasts with the help of the online public, the day whizzed by and created some great talking points with other delegates in between the sessions.
Having the opportunity to speak with counterparts from organisations such as English Heritage, Tate Modern and even the Eden Project I was eager to find out what their future plans were from an online and digital perspective.
It was particularly encouraging to realise that the plans we are putting in place at York Museums Trust are actually on a par with them.
In the next nine to twelve months we are hoping to take a big leap forward in terms of our digital output so to hear that we are on track with what’s happening across the industry is greatly reassuring.
Back to the conference and the day concluded with a fascinating and highly entertaining closing keynote speech by Michael John Gorman of the Science Gallery in Dublin.
Michael alluded to some of the fantastic ways in which they are not only attracting visitors to the Science Gallery but also how they contribute to the exhibitions and also return to see their contributions time and again.
As Michael so humorously put it:
“We manage to extract something from all of our visitors,” by which he was referring not only to money, saliva, DNA…the slightly disturbing list went on!
With the day more or less wrapped up it was time to head across the Millennium bridge to catch the tube, taking in the dazzling London skyline. Heading back across the city it was great to think that our plans are really starting to take shape and it won’t be long before we can start to show off some exciting new initiatives to the online public.