I gave my first paper about my work at the Museum of Zoology on Friday, at the University of Newcastle. This one-day workshop bought together university researchers, policy makers and museum, gallery and heritage practitioners to discuss digital cultural engagement in the sector. The event was funded by the AHRC Cultural Engagement Fund and was organised by the International Centre for Cultural and Heritage Studies (ICCHS) at Newcastle University, in collaboration with Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums.
The event examined how cultural institutions can encourage and sustain significant levels of public engagement via their social media platforms, and offered opportunities for discussion and insights into the value of digital cultural engagement.
Here’s the abstract from my paper:
The AHRC Connecting with Collections project at the University of Cambridge has linked six early career researchers with one of the University museums, allowing them to undertake an individual research project. Lorna Richardson has been working at the Museum of Zoology and the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology since February 2013. Her research examines the possibilities and potential of digital technologies for public engagement at both museums. This paper will explore the activities undertaken during the research project to extend the public reach of the Museums, especially through the use of Wikipedia and blogging. It will reflect on the use of these technologies and platforms in public archaeology in the UK, using data gathered during Lorna’s PhD research at the UCL Centre for Digital Humanities.
And here’s a Storify of the Tweets from the day itself: https://storify.com/lornarichardson/users-fans-and-followers-univeristy-of-newcastle-7
The Changing Perspectives: a garden through time project at Cambridge University Botanic Garden is just over half way and research is revealing some of the fascinating stories, ideas and philosophies behind the making and shaping the garden since the 1950s. For this project, a variety of written and living sources are being consulted. These include the Botanic Garden’s annual reports, specialist botanical publications such as the esteemed Curtis’s Botanical Magazine, and significantly some of key people who have been involved with the Garden, botany or plant science from the mid-twentieth century to the early twenty-first century.
In May, Emeritus Professor John Parker (pictured above), Director of the Botanic Garden for fifteen years (between 1996 and 2010) was interviewed for the Changing Perspective project on a visit to the Garden. Professor Parker’s directorship coincided with a major new chapter in the Garden’s history – the construction of the Sainsbury Laboratory of Plant Science. Since its inception, learning and research have been integral to the Cambridge University Botanic Garden. As a champion of public engagement and of the appreciation of plants through knowledge, Professor Parker promoted an active agenda for eduction to all ages during his years in the Garden. Today, the Botanic Garden’s educational programme includes primary and secondary school children, as well as children and adults of all ages wishing to learn about plants, nature and the environment on a more creative or informal basis.
During his visit, Professor John Parker gave a talk on behalf of The Galapagos Conservation Trust in the John Gilmour suite. Entitled ‘The Five Weeks that Changed the World’, his talk linked the Galapagos Islands and Charles Darwin with his mentor, Cambridge professor of Botany and founder of the new Botanic Garden, John Henslow. The plant specimens collected by Darwin on the Beagle’s voyage to the Galapagos are now part of the historic Cambridge Herbarium collection. These are held in the Herbarium’s new home within the Sainsbury Laboratory of Plant Science.
The Changing Perspectives project continues the approach of the University of Cambridge Museum to make its incredible collections more accessible to wider audiences. The results of this research will be presented in an online digital exhibition of the contemporary history of the Cambridge University Botanic Garden from the 1950s. The Changing Perspectives: a garden through time exhibition website will be launched in September 2013. Watch this space.