Chapter Twelve — Reflecting on #digiRDG

Charlene
Charlene
Jan 24, 2018 · 5 min read

December recap- This is a round up of the highlights from the final month of 2017!

Whilst some may have used this month as a time of reflection and preparing to wind down, the #digiRDG team had a lot on the agenda before the year was through!

The team recently had an away day to discuss how far we had progressed with the project. Our Evaluation Consultant developed a plan to help coordinate the day. We thought about the mini projects that needed to be brought to an end and the projects which would take priority over the next 5 and a half months!

We applied the same format to the traineeship, which was particularly useful for thinking about the experience we still needed to acquire before the end of the contract.

By the end of the day, we all agreed that we had certainly done a lot on the project so far! I also had an idea of the areas I wanted to develop further career wise, and it was satisfying.

Accessibility in Museums

One of the main outcomes of our project is to explore ways in which the two museums can attract diverse audiences. It is important for museums to be accessible and as a team we were passionate about exploring ways in which we could be more accommodating for our autistic visitors.

I believe museums should be a place where everyone can feel welcome and have a valuable experience. A valuable experience to some may consist of a peaceful escape from an otherwise hectic lifestyle, indulging in a bit of culture alone or with a companion, or gaining an increased knowledge in a particular subject area. Experiences will of course vary for different visitors and for different reasons.

After undergoing research and speaking with professionals about Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), the team made a start on the ‘accessible museum sprint’. We set aside just short of a week dedicated to creating digital resources to trial with a focus group at The MERL. The digital resources consisted of producing:

  • 360° photos -(something which we had now developed a fair bit of experience in) to be uploaded onto Google Streetview so that visitors can view inside and outside the museum.
  • a social story - this will be a downloadable guide that visitors can view before coming to the museum, to give them an idea of what to expect upon arrival including activities they can do.
  • a sensory map - this will inform visitors of sounds they may hear in each gallery, the areas that are particularly loud as well as information on lighting etc.

Some have argued the point:

  • Why visit in person if you can just view the museum online?
  • What if after viewing online, they decide not to visit because it doesn’t appeal to them?

These are fair points, and personally I think there’s nothing like seeing the real thing. You can’t physically engage with the interactives through photographs in the same way you could if visiting in person. I see it as more of a taster of what to expect and from the reaction we’ve received from sharing the VR headsets at community events, it’s simply a fun way to ‘transport’ yourself into a different environment.

I would hope the 360° photos wouldn’t prevent anyone from wanting to visit, however that choice is completely up to the individual and nothing tried, nothing gained.

We also made an attempt at another video in my previous blog, ‘Moving On’, where you will see that we tried to produce a video with the aid of our sensory cow!

The video proved to be more challenging however as it was difficult to create a steady recording whilst moving through the galleries. You can read about the process of creating the 360° photos for google street maps on this blog written by #digiRDG Project Manager, Adam Koszary:

Wrapping up for Christmas

As mentioned at the beginning, December marked the time for bringing certain projects to an end. This included the Ladybird Cataloguing project I was involved in.

I really enjoyed my time working on this project, and became a Ladybird fan all over again! My favourite part was getting to view rare and original pieces of artwork. At this point I had spent my time juggling between using Modes at Reading Museum and Adlib at The MERL, and at times I forgot which program was for which museum, but I felt happy with the knowledge I was gaining.

It’s been an amazing year and I’m so grateful for the opportunities I’ve had, the amazing people I’ve been fortunate to work with and the incredible skills I have acquired. Before the Christmas break, I wrote a blog about my experience at Reading Museum which you can read here:

Writing this blog allowed me to reflect on how much I had achieved over the course of a year and that was based at just one museum!

A new year, new goals….

Now we’re in January, I have less than 4 months left of the project! The next few months will be spent completing and delivering the important projects we set out to do which will hopefully have a beneficial impact on the local community and leave a legacy of the #digiRDG project for both museums.

We have the Digital Takeover Part II to look forward to which will be a showcase of our achievements and the amazing people we’ve worked with throughout the project.

I will also spend my time developing my skills in the areas I have taken a particular interest in, which includes more digitisation work in the archives. The next few months will essentially see me leaving the museum nest and preparing to take flight for my future career…

Charlene

Written by

Charlene

#digiRDG

#digiRDG

Blogs from the #digiRDG project team tracking our experiences changing Reading Museum and the Museum of English Rural Life.

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