[This week’s guest post is by Linda Spurdle, Online Resources Manager at Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery]
I think I may be cheating to focus on my week in ‘cultural heritage online’ rather than any big news stories, but worries about budget cuts, the desire to develop innovative projects and the need to pursue funding have been my main concerns of the week.
On Tuesday I attended a funding surgery for the Digital Content Development Fund at Arts Council West Midlands. We discussed an idea that is in the early stages of research and development. I had hoped to make an application to JISC’s Developing Community Collections Fund but JISC put this on ice in December 2009. This was because HEFCE decided to re-evaluate what it was going to fund in the light of cuts to their budget. The good news of the week is that this funding stream has now been reinstated. BMAG is working with the Interactive Cultures team at Birmingham City University to submit a proposal.
This week the news story broke that Birmingham City Council is to cut jobs, possibly including posts at Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery. These are difficult times for many museums but BMAG is extremely lucky to have some exciting projects in development, such as the Birmingham History Galleries project and the plan to acquire the Staffordshire Hoard.
Jim Richardson’s ‘Follow A Museum’ initiative appears to be continuing to have a positive effect on the number of followers we have on Twitter. @BM_AG has seen a faster rise in the number of followers since the 1st February event than it did before. We first started to use Twitter in October 2009 when the Staffordshire Hoard came to BMAG and it has been great to see @StokeMuseums tweeting away about the Hoard this week ahead of the exhibition opening there on February 13th.
It was interested to read the results of Mia Ridge’s survey ‘is it friendly or weird when a museum twitter account follows you back?‘. We continue to follow most people back, but now I find myself hovering over the ‘follow’ button wondering if it is what that person wants!
BECTA have commissioned a video about the BETT 2010 award winners which includes BMAG’s Pre-Raphaelite Online Resource. On Thursday a film crew went down to Lordswood Boys’ School in Birmingham to film a class of Year 8 kids using the website. The kids then visited BMAG and were filmed looking at some of the paintings they had examined in class. When they entered the Pre-Raphaelite galleries they were quick to recognise the paintings they had viewed and there was a lovely energy as they crowded around to look. They were asked if they preferred seeing the pictures on the web or in the gallery. All thirteen boys answered ‘in the gallery’. Just the way it should be!