This post is a short summary of how us lot at Aardman found it working in partnership with Bristol Museum and Bristol University.
We are well versed in building partnerships with our various clients – be it to produce TV commercials, video games or digital tools. The Hidden Museum project pushed the partnership model to another level – with three equal partners, all aiming to achieve a goal that we defined ourselves, and trying to figure it all out together as we went along.
The Digital R&D Fund for the Arts requires project teams to have 3 partners from set disciplines: An Arts partner, a Research partner and a Tech partner. This interdisciplinary trinity forms a super-stable foundation on which to work; the Museum provided the requirements, context and content, the University provided the objective framework, and we provided the means, management and distillation of everyone’s ideas. Although of course in reality these distinctions blur a lot…
As a group of 3 very busy organisations – each with our own respective teams – it was invaluable to have one point for all project management. And luckily we were very privileged to have two partners who were happy to bend their usual way of working to how we do things at Aardman – organising the work and collaboration around our usual agile structure.
It really helped to have everyone local, who were able to meet up on short notice (and at minimal expense), and shared a willingness to use all used the same communication tools. We generally used Basecamp for communications, Trello for task lists, and met regularly for sprint planning and closedowns.
Emphasis on research
The research goal of the project really helped shape our user stories by those that would best answer the research questions, rather than getting carried away by the technical wizardry at our fingertips, or the huge breadth of content at the Museum. And the R&D focus liberated us all to genuinely respond to user testing results – a rare privilege when working commercially.
Our close partnership enabled the museum’s senior curator Gail Boyle to be such a key member of the team – helping design the product in full context of the space, and providing in-depth knowledge about the museum and its collections – as well as a massive willingness and effort to create all the content… a huge undertaking!
It’s not over yet…
For the time being we’ve now come to the end of our role in the project, and it’s now ready for the research team to finish their testing to find out how this kind of technology really impacts museum visits. It’s been a great process – both liberating and focused – which has provided huge insights into each of our different worlds. Long may the partnership continue!