Monthly Archives: November 2017

Exhibitions online

We recently (softly softly) went live with Exhibitions Online.

A place to translate our in-house exhibitions for an online audience, we worked with Mike and Luke at Thirty8 Digital to create a narrative structure with scroll-through content and click-through chapters on WordPress. They built in lovely features such as object grids, timelines, slideshows, maps and quotes.

There are a few exhibitions already up, past (death: the human experience) present (Empire through the Lens) and future (What is Bristol Music?). We’ve most recently used it for our European Old Masters gallery to showcase a beautiful painting we have on loan for two years: St Luke Drawing the Virgin and Child by Dieric Bouts (I discovered the Pantone app with this one, taking the red from the gallery to use online. V satisfying). I’m currently working with the exhibition team to get our Pliosaurus! exhibition up – watch this space for some fun things with that one, which we’re hoping to use for interp in our Sea Dragons gallery at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery too.

(For the What is Bristol Music? exhibition opening in May 2018, we’re using WP plugin Gravity Forms to collate peoples’ experiences and pictures of the Bristol music scene to be featured in the physical exhibition. Chip in if you have a story to tell.)

So far, we’ve found the content and arrangement really depends on the exhibition. The idea isn’t to simply put the physical exhibition online (I say ‘simply’, as if it would be) but instead to use the format and content of the exhibition to engage with people in a different environment: albeit one where we’re competing with a thousand other things for people’s attention. Exhibitions which have been and gone have been slightly more challenging, as the content was never intended for this use and has needed some wrangling. The more we use it though the smoother the process is getting, now that we know what we need and it being on teams’ plans as something to consider.

We’re still in the early stages of reviewing analytics to see how people are using it. Initial results are heartening, though, with a few thousand visits having had minimal promotion. At the moment most people are finding it from our what’s on pages (where most of our traffic to the main website is anyway) and we’re thinking about what campaigns we can do to get it out there more.

Any feedback or thoughts, hmu →

MA Final Project St. Paul’s Black History virtual map – Beta

Hi! I am Tanja, a current MA Curating student at UWE, placed as a Curator in training with the Social History Team in Bristol Culture since January 2017. I am interested in engagement work, black history and innovation through digital media in museums. Aside from assisting the Social History Team, I became involved with mainly digital developments, writing up a project proposal to redevelop the “Big Question Displays” in M Shed to address Brexit on a limited budget, as part of my course and writing up a new online collection highlight on “Green Bristol”. For my final project I aimed to contribute to the service through piloting something new and innovative, but rather budget friendly for the service, that crosscuts my interests.

I decided to develop a customized Google map to document black History in St. Paul’s, capturing some key stories of prominent Black Bristolians that were and are active in the area. Initially planned as a walking tour, one motivation for me was to preserve these stories in an ever-changing St. Paul’s and reimagine these for an online audience, who might want to access the map remotely and as a “gateway” of getting first insides into Black History. While focussing on the African Caribbean community from the 1950s I wanted to design something speaking to digital natives and older generations alike. One of my inspirations was “Black Histories London”, a research project capturing the black presence in London from 1958 to 1981 by Rob Waters, who works for University of Sussex and the Sussex Humanities Lab.

I started contacting local stakeholders in June to September, reached out via our Bristol Museums blog and researched intensively in the archives, while tracing back old material from other service affiliated projects such as the Black Bristolian Learning Resource and the Bristol Black Archives Partnership, to combine information into this new digital offering.

Over the last months, I developed a prototype, that I wanted to share with you as an early beta test to gather feedback. The prototype will be trailed with some members of the Bristol Culture Youth Panel on Wednesday 8th November 2017, in a feedback workshop, as well. Although this prototype is fully functional, it is not yet revised in its size and scope as such. Texts for the stations are still earliest drafts, some pictures will change, and some stations will not end up in the final version.

At the moment I am looking at the following questions:

  • How is the layout and design working?
  • Should I use multiple layers sorting stories after themes, instead of one full layer?
  • Should I do a second map for possible walking routes or work in one map with layers?
  • How are the texts and the stations? Are they fully understandable? Does it contain unneccessary information?


The project is already fully integrated and tested into the google map app for Android and iPhones. To access it on the go, the user needs to open this blog post (and later the final blog post) with their browser and then click the “fullscreen”/ enlarge icon. This should automatically open the map on the google maps app.

The end product will be offered to the public via a blog post in late November and will hopefully be supplemented by a “Discover and Walk your own” Guide/Booklet as a pdf download. I am currently also seeking out possibilities to further integrate the legacy of the project in form of the map as a QR code label into M Shed.

It would be great to hear your feedback and ideas for improvement as well as general thoughts on this project. I have created a google survey to fill with your impressions and ideas. The form is completely anonymous and does not require any personal data here!
After the Youth Panel Workshop I will try to start systematically evaluating the different tools and map types I discovered and how this pilot is proceeding.