DEN Project

DEN Support

DEN Meeting 8

Digital Engagement Network Meeting 8

Wednesday 30th January 2013, 10am to 12:30pm

New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, Leicester



Kerem Cetindamar Leicester Museums
Mike Beech Foxton Canal Museum
Wendy Freer Ashby De La Zouch Museum
Sophie Newland Pratt Sudbury Hall and National Museum of Childhood, National Trust
Rose Hodkinson Sudbury Hall and National Museum of Childhood, National Trust
Caroline Moore Digital Engagement Network
Hannah Boddy Creswell Crags
Helen Chatterton Creswell Crags
Alex Woodall PHD Researcher, School of Museum Studies, Leicester University.



David Amos MuBu Miner
Emma Hancock Creswell Crags
Louise Button-Lowth Nottingham City Museums & Galleries
Zara Matthews Market Harborough Museum
Sophie Newland Pratt Sudbury Hall and National Museum of Childhood, National Trust
Nisha Popat Leicester City Arts and Museums
Lynsey Woods Southwell Workhouse


Welcome and introductions:

Caroline welcomed everyone.

Digital project presentations:

Alex Woodall, Museums, Health and Wellbeing: Nurturing innovation in the East Midlands

Alex is doing some work for the Research Centre for Museums and Galleries (RCMG) in the Museum Studies department at Leicester University. The project is funed by Arts Council England (ACE) and is about Health and Wellbeing in the East Midlands.  There are three strands,

  • One strand is working with the collection and content created for the MuBu funded Players Past project : Nottingham Museums are working with a smoking group and a smoke free group in Nottingham.
  • Kate Travers is working with Woodhall Spa Museum, Kettering Museum and Crich Tramway Village. This part of the project is intergenerational and involves older people and object handling.
  • New Walk Museum and Leicester Children’s Hospital are working together. The topic is mind, body and spirit. The Head teacher at the school would like to build a digital resource/website. They would like to build something that can move around objects and virtually take the objects into the hospital school space as the children cannot leave the hospital. With activities provided that can be done by very ill young people off-site. This website: is popular with the staff of the school. The plan is not to reinvent the wheel as there are lots of things that already exist like this and to use a platform that already exists such as MyLearning. The idea is that this resource will be a pilot that can then be added to nationally and used by other hospital schools. Lots of ideas were shared amongst the group.

Caroline Moore, My Life as an Object

The project ran in 2010 and was funded by MuBu and carried out by Rattle . Each week a different object came to life, it was given a human voice and told its story across different social media platforms. Objects can be difficult to interpret without context and yet in a museum they lack the very context in which they were originally used and online even less so. A web page per object doesn’t leave much room for interaction; the idea was to encourage participation and engagement by treating each object as a person.

A small central website co-ordinated the project: , this was a starting off point and archive. Each object was announced on the central website with links to the identity on Facebook etc. Over the week the object told a story inspired by its history this did include some fictional elements. The objects responded to questions, comments and thoughts from the audience. The story was mainly planned in advance but might react or change in response to the audience interaction.

Jewellery Box

The Jewellery box ‘lived’ on eBay ; ‘I’m an antique jewellery box. Over the years, I’ve been passed down from family member to family member, collecting a selection of rings, necklaces and trinkets along the way. Now, I’ve fallen upon hard times, and I’m auctioning off some items.’ The box provided background stories about the two items to be sold.

One of these items was a mock pearl necklace which got 7 bids and sold for £2.40.  The other item was a chunky bangle which received 35 views, 6 bids and sold for £3.10.

The story provided for the bangle was:

 Mary received this bangle as a present on her 12th birthday from her mother.  She loved playing in the garden on her own, getting muddy amongst the rose beds and brambles. The present was a reminder of those times, but also was a signal that it was time for Mary to start growing up.  She wore it, reluctantly at first, with her pretty white dresses on formal occasions, or when there were visitors to the house. Later, she took to wearing it as often as she could, even sleeping with it if she could get away with it.  But within two years the bangle had been discarded, thrust into me, her mother’s jewellery box, and forgotten about. Mary started wearing other jewellery – new necklaces, bracelets, and then had her ears pierced.  But she always remembered the chunky bangle as the first piece of “grown-up” jewellery she was ever given.

 Actually the item was a tea caddy, it seemed strange to tell fiction about an object but it did not seem to matter in the end and was a very interesting experiment.

Boots baby weighing scales

The Boots Baby Weighing Scales ‘lived’ on Facebook for one week.  Rattle published a week’s worth of anonymous baby weights and times from a hospital in Nottingham. Approximately 350 records, 50 a day, just over 4 an hour or one every 15 minutes. The thinking was that Facebook was popular for sharing this type of information with friends.  Soon after the weights were beginning to be published, other people began to publish their own children’s weights, times and genders.  This continued sometime after the initial week ended! By the end of this project the page got 43 wall posts in total and 85 fans .

Raleigh Chopper

The idea was to tell the story as if the chopper had a life on twitter with updates, images and events it attended. It was clearly authored and written in an irreverent style, encouraging people to take interest in the object, its history and its life. The ideas was to vocalise an object, get under  its skin and understand what its thoughts would be, how it would feel, watching people, experiencing being used, unused and rescued for the museum. An idiosyncratic object (odd-shaped wheels, notional braking system, unfortunate gear stick placement, lively suspension) gave it a longer life cycle for conversational content. It was bought as a gift, the coolest thing on two wheels, lived as a ridiculous stunt bike injuring plenty and ultimately ended up obsolete and superseded by the BMX. Strong links to Nottingham. The bike wanted to hear people’s anecdotes and memories, to be sad when the chopper was down and visa versa. As people asked questions tid bits of history and pithy retorts could be added. The content was half written, part responsive and part on the fly. The writer became attached to the story and was excited when riding in parks, sad when abandoned, hopeful when rescued and proud when on display at Nottingham Museum at the end.


@yellowchopper how do you answer to the accusation that you have made lots of dentists very rich over the years.

Following @yellowchopper is becoming quite upsetting.

So sad the glory days of @yellowchopper look like being over.

Paul Englefield Painting on Flickr

This object story was advertised via postcard. Every few days part of the picture was revealed with a question or a statement about the activity shown. People can respond by adding a note or comment to the image. Every few days the image was locked down and a new part opened until after 7 days the full painting was revealed. The Flickr page got 498 views and 27 contacts.

Thoughts from the project

  • Communicate clearly what the audience should engage with and how
  • Interaction for each object was not long enough
  • Use existing audience and also fan groups
  • Wish we could have provided links to objects on line and tracked web hits
  • Follow dynamics of online communities you are engaging with

Wendy Freer, Digital Projects at Ashby De La Zouch Museum

Objects have been taken out of store and presented to a person who has a connection to the object to talk about it on film. The films show the objects and interviewee’s hands only. Veterinary instruments were used and a retired vet was interviewed. He was a friend of the donor of the objects. 8 films were made. The conversation was enhanced by the interviewer who grew up on a farm and knew a lot of background about the instruments. 4 QR codes in the gallery link the objects to the You Tube clips. Wendy is considering the use of Augmented Reality in the museum and has logged into Aurasma an augmented reality platform demonstrated at the last DEN training. Aurasma is available as a free app for iPhones, iPads and high-powered Android.

Helen Chatterton, Digital Projects at Creswell Crags

Connecting Creswell is an ACE funded project that will run until March 31st and will continue as an HLF project from March 2013 to Summer 2013. The idea is to improve interpretation of the site. There will be outdoor panels and a digital app. The HLF young roots project will help create content. The crags want to engage young audiences with the project.  Trent and peak archaeology have carried out 3D laser scans of the caves. Only two of the caves are accessible and then with guided tours. Vertigo creative are working on an app with 5 students from Nottingham Trent University. The app will be a simple trail around the site and museum. Tablets have been bought and free Wi-Fi has been installed in the museum. The apps will be created for android and apple but not for windows. It is customary to pay for each variation of the app to make it compatible with different platforms. A future project might be 3D printing of the rock art.

Future Proof Update:

My learning

All online learning resources should be created with support from the My Learning team and placed on the My Learning website with links back to the Museum’s own website. The Learn With Museums resources are slowly being added to My Learning. Each resource is reviewed by a teacher’s panel. My Learning gets c 60,000 hits a month. Please get in touch with Alison Hughes if you have any questions:

DEN website

Please continue to blog and get in touch if you need any help. There are currently blogs from Ashby De La Zouch Museum, MuBu Miner and Sudbury Hall and National Museum of Childhood. The website had 770 hits in November , 740 hits in December and 878 hits in January. Digital Welly will host the DEN site keeping the domain name and server running. No paid support has been built in but the team at Digital Welly will be happy to help for a small fee. You can continue to blog in your museum space. The DEN website will be monitored by EMMS for 2 years until Feb 28th 2015.

Future of DEN

DEN events will continue to be posted on the EMMS website and the DEN Facebook page. An HLF bid is in development with EMMS in order to provide training and support for museums carrying out digital projects from March 2013. There is evidence that it is becoming harder to attract the museum workforce to meetings and training courses thus digital training and development needs would be addressed through a locally-based coaching / mentoring approach for volunteers working in small clusters of neighbouring museums, or (where necessary) a single museum.

Please come along to a DEN meeting even if you don’t currently have a project to share, the project does not need to be ongoing, the meetings are a great place to share thoughts and ideas and catch up with colleagues interested in digital projects.

Round up of projects:

Foxton Canal Museum

1813 and 1913 significant events to put on blog. Facebook on website. Long term digital version of locks and inclined plane in 1900 – work with DMU. Games quality graphics. Point phone round site. 150k.

Sudbury Hall and Museum of Childhood

Derbyshire Heritage Award won for 10 teenages and 10 toys all 13 year olds. Betty Cadbury Collection – make more films of automata show in gallery where object is displayed. Share on Facebook and You Tube. Rose and Laura blog about their job as documentation assistants. Volunteers call out to help with blogging. Knowledgeable chap encouraged to blog. Short stories on Facebook. Have a look.

Digital Strategies Support from Museum Development Network

  • The programme will last for one year and will look at what digital strategies could be implemented into your museum (e.g. assist collections care, data collection, marketing, social networking, collections documentation)
  • Working one-to-one with a mentor and help facilitate development in this area
  • Training provision can be arranged, in particular Social Media training
  • The programme will be advertised in February 2013 and Museums will be able to apply in March 2013.
  • If your museum is interested in training or one-to-one support, please email Claire Browne  before end of March 2013
  • If your museum has a particular digital ambition – please email requests and ideas to .

Date of next meeting

Wednesday 15th May, DEN meeting, Creswell Crags, 10:30 am to 12:30pm. With a tour of the crags after lunch.

Please come along to a DEN meeting even if you don’t currently have a project to share, the project does not need to be ongoing, the meetings are a great place to share thoughts and ideas and catch up with colleagues interested in digital.


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