Words and images by Helen Perrault-Newby, Digital Trainee at the Garden Museum.
My one year traineeship is part of the British Museum’s ‘Museum Futures’ programme funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The programme focuses on training young people in the management and access of museum collections and data. With that in mind I’ve spent the last few months improving access to our collections online and contributing to the new archive web pages.
As my traineeship at the Garden Museum draws to a close, I’d like to highlight some of the projects I’ve been really proud to work on.
In a pervious blog post I wrote about the digitalisation of Russell Page’s plans which can now be viewed on the new archive section of the website. Currently, seven of his projects can be explored in detail. These are accompanied by high resolution images of the plans alongside written interpretation. I’m pleased to say I’ll be continuing to work on digitising these plans in the new year so that more of Russell Page projects can be shared online.
Over the last few months I have been particularly focused on uploading more museum objects to our collection pages, enabling them to be accessed by anyone, anywhere, and in a user friendly format. As the number of objects online rises there is an increase in page views, with users as far away as India, New Zealand and Argentina. In the last two months the Museum’s collection pages have seen a 176% increase compared to the same time last year.
With a growing number of objects uploaded its important to create ways for users to navigate through them. We have added a search function to enable users to easily find objects of interest as well as a theme selection function allowing users to browse the collection around a certain topic or type of material. Research by the V&A found that more of their collection page users didn’t search than did, showing that creating ways to browse the collection is key for a great experience.
The research also showed that a good image of the object is really important for users. Each object uploaded to the Garden Museum collection’s page has a high quality image, most of which have been taken in-house using the techniques and equipment recommended by the British Museum.
Alongside the improvements to our collection page, I’m excited to say I have also been working on our partnership with Google Art and Culture. This page allows users to explore the collection browsing by date or object popularity. It integrates the Garden Museum’s collection with collections from other institutions across the globe. The Garden Museum Google Arts and Culture page will be launched in Summer 2020, and will feature a street view of the museum as well as several online exhibitions.
Although my traineeship has finished, more objects will be coming online to both collection webpages with the help of a fantastic volunteer. To celebrate what is already available, I have chosen five fascinating objects that I have worked on from photograph to upload: