The ways in which individuals engage with the collections of museums, galleries and archives is changing as we move further into the digital age. Visits to real collections and to material objects remain important, but as considerable numbers of digitised objects become available on the internet, the online presence of our cultural institutions begins to gain an almost equal significance. Scottish museums, galleries and archives have put substantial resources into digitising elements of their collections, while social media and ‘web 2.0’ environments have, in recent years, created new opportunities for users to contribute their own objects and interpretations to museum and gallery web sites and online collections.
In such a rapidly-shifting technological environment, the education and outreach responsibilities of cultural institutions gain an exciting new dimension, as globally-accessible user interventions begin to emerge alongside traditional curatorial and educational uses of museum and gallery web space. Yet we know relatively little about how online communities emerge around digital collections, how users make meaning with digital objects, or how these changing patterns of participation should be accounted for by policy makers and practitioners within the Scottish cultural heritage sector.
This workshop series and social network is funded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh, led in collaboration between the School of Education at the University of Edinburgh and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, with National Museums Scotland and the National Galleries of Scotland as project partners. It will provide a vibrant forum for the exchange of knowledge between researchers and practitioners in museum and gallery education. It has two formal aims:
1. to begin to establish a research agenda for museum and gallery education for the digital age
2. to inform policy and practice in the use of social media and user-generated content by the Scottish cultural heritage sector.
For more information about the project, contact Dr Sian Bayne, School of Education, The University of Edinburgh. sian.bayne at ed.ac.uk