Spotlight on: Katie Wylie, Marketing and Digital Intern at Royal Cornwall Museum

After five fantastic months, I am now nearing the end of my placement as the Marketing and Digital Intern at the Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro. My role at the RCM has primarily involved assisting the Marketing and Digital Lead, Sophie Meyer, in promoting stories from the museum’s collections. This has mainly been achieved through a mix of social media, blogs and online exhibitions.

I have also had the opportunity to attend a number of talks and conferences, including the Museums Association ‘Digital Basics Bootcamp’ at the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester. I have learnt a lot about the importance of creating great content – using my knowledge to explore the collections, stores and archives, and to bring hitherto unknown tales to the fore.

Knowing that my term at the RCM would take in International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month (both in March), I have been particularly inspired to focus on the women that are represented in the museum’s collections.

Staff and patients, including Red Cross nurses, outside the Royal Cornwall Infirmary, Truro, Cornwall. 21st July 1916. © From the collection of the RIC (TRURI-TRUhrc-9). As featured in the online exhibition ‘Behind the Lines: Personal Stories of the First World War’.

For example, with the recent online exhibition ‘Behind the Lines: Personal Stories of the First World War’, I was keen to incorporate pieces on both Red Cross nurses and the Women’s Land Army in Cornwall. The RCM’s photographic collection clearly shows their remarkable contribution to the war effort – training to help the sick and wounded and taking on demanding agricultural work. It was a privilege to research their time at the Royal Cornwall Infirmary and Tregavethan Farm near Truro.

Members of the First World War Women’s Land Army at Tregavethan Farm, Truro, Cornwall. April-May 1917. © From the collection of the RIC (TRURI-1972-2-56). As featured in the online exhibition ‘Behind the Lines: Personal Stories of the First World War’.

Likewise, I am currently participating in a campaign devised by the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Using social media, they have been asking the public whether they can name five women artists. Many cannot, calling attention to the fact that women have not been treated equally in the art sphere, and today remain dramatically underrepresented and undervalued in museums, galleries and auction houses worldwide.

In a bid to help the NMWA promote gender equality, we have joined the #5WomenArtists movement – pledging to release a series of blog posts highlighting five women artists that are included in the RCM’s collections. A physical trail has also been put together to emphasise their work within the museum.

The posts will feature artists from a range of time periods, who use a variety of different mediums for expression. The first article was about Esther M. Moore (1857-1934), who worked as a colliery agent before becoming a sculptor in 1891. Her Art Nouveau and Symbolist piece ‘At the Gates of the Past’ is one of my favourite objects at the museum. The following instalments will be published on each Friday in March.

‘At the Gates of the Past’ by Esther M. Moore (1857-1934). As featured in the #5WomenArtists blog series with the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my internship and look forward to making the most of my last few weeks at the RCM.

– Katie Wylie
Marketing and Digital Intern, Royal Cornwall Museum

You can follow #5WomenArtists here: https://www.royalcornwallmuseum.org.uk/5womenartists

The online exhibition ‘Behind the Lines: Personal Stories from the First World War’ can be found here: https://www.royalcornwallmuseum.org.uk/exhibition/behind-the-lines-personal-stories-of-the-first-world-war

Cornish Object of the Year Award 2019 Vlog 4 – ‘The Bethlehem Pasty’

In the run up to the Cornwall Heritage Awards, I have been visiting each of the museums with shortlisted objects nominated for Cornish Object of the Year Award 2019, to hear from the staff and volunteers about the amazing stories behind the objects.

In this vlog I speak to Rosie Kliskey, Assistant Curator at Museum of Cornish Life in Helston to hear the story behind their shortlisted object the ‘Bethlehem Pasty.’

I hadn’t visited the Museum of Cornish Life before filming the vlog. The museum specialises in the social history of Cornwall and I was surprised at the variety of objects in their collection, from typewriters to mobile phones, and military uniforms to the gigantic, centuries old, cider press. The ‘Bethlehem Pasty’ – which is carved from stone – is a particularly fascinating example of Cornwall’s social history as it enlightens us to the life of William Jewell, a butcher from Cornwall, who served with the Desert Rats in Africa and the Middle East during the Second World War.

To vote for your favourite Cornish object click here.
Voting closes Midnight Tues 12 February 2019.

– Peter Lower, Marketing and Events Intern

Cornish Object of the Year Award 2019 Vlog 3 – ‘Penzance Market Cross’

In the run up to the Cornwall Heritage Awards, 21 March, I have been visiting each of the shortlisted objects nominated for Cornish Object of the Year Award 2019 to hear from the staff and volunteers about the amazing stories behind the objects.

In this vlog I speak to Anna Renton, Director at Penlee House Gallery and Museum, to hear the story of their shortlisted object, the ‘Penzance Market Cross’.

It was amazing to hear the story of the cross, which has been a mainstay of Penzance for over 1000 years. It was fascinating to find out about the meaning of the inscriptions, and how the cross has moved to seven different locations around the town.

The Cornish Object of the Year Award 2019 is open to public vote, vote for your favourite object here.

Voting closes Midnight 12 Feb.
The winner will be announced at the Cornwall Heritage Awards, 21 March 2019.

– Peter Lower, Marketing and Events Intern

Board Development: Succession Planning

By now you know how much I love a sporting analogy. So it should come as no surprise that I’m going to use another one here to look at why being strategic about your board development and succession plan will help your organisation to deliver greater impact and focus resources more effectively.

After England won the Rugby World Cup in 2003 a lot of the experienced squad retired, and we had a hiatus of about ten years when frankly we weren’t that great. Mike Catt, one of that winning squad summed it up, “There was no legacy from our win. We didn’t pass anything on.” This has often confused me with British sports, why’d we get so good and then suddenly after a great achievement we’d seem to have to begin all over again.

I asked a friend of mine, a professional rugby player, why this was. His answer was succession planning. Well, his answer was a bit longer than that, but that was a large part of it. He used the example of the All Blacks, a team that has dominated the game for decades, they are the most successful sports franchise in history.

Museums and other charities can learn a lot from how the All Blacks, and other great sporting teams evolve and develop, continually striving to be better and do better.

 

“We always want to make sure that the place we go to, we leave it in as good if not better shape than when we arrived.”

– Sam Whitelock, City AM 2015

The All Blacks have a clear culture and values that they embed in every player, from the grassroots to the elite and all the support staff of coaches, trainers, in fact everyone involved in the game. ‘Better people make better All Blacks’ is the mantra that underpins the team’s culture.

Steve Tew, CEO of New Zealand Rugby says, “You have to live those values and live them 24/7 otherwise they end up being just words on a strategic plan or brand poster or some other fancy document.” They unite behind a shared vision of what success looks like.

The All Blacks never lose sight of who they are playing for: family, friends, their team mates and every single Kiwi scattered across the world. This is a lesson for every charity, to keep your stakeholders at the heart of everything that you do.

The All Blacks train relentlessly, elite players constantly hone the fundamental basic skills of their game, continually improving. An All Black would never consider they have nothing left to learn or suggest that they have all the necessary skills to deliver the best they can. The All Blacks have as high expectations of themselves as their fans do. Resting on their laurels is not an option.

To learn more about effective board development, please see our Governance eLearning modules (coming soon) or get in touch with us about our Good Governance programme by emailing clare@cornwallmuseumspartnership.org.uk.

– Clare Pennington, RPR Programme Manager

Cornish Object of the Year Award 2019 Vlog – Cornish Miner’s Sweetheart Jewellery

Hi, I’m Peter the new Marketing and Events Intern at Cornwall Museums Partnership.

Part of my role at CMP is to help deliver events including the Cornwall Heritage Awards in March. The Cornwall Heritage Awards is a fantastic opportunity for museums and heritage organisations to showcase some of the amazing work they are doing, and this year the Cornish Object of the Year Award has been opened up to the public so everybody can have their say.

One of the great aspects of my internship is visiting the different museums in Cornwall, both big and small, and speaking to the staff and volunteers. Over the upcoming weeks I will be visiting each of the shortlisted objects and finding out from the staff and volunteers about the amazing stories behind the objects and why they were nominated.

In this first vlog, I visit Murdoch House in Redruth to hear about the story behind the Cornish Miner’s Sweetheart Jewellery. Murdoch House was originally the residence of inventor William Murdoch and was the first house in the world to have gas lighting. Murdoch House is now home to the Cornish Global Migration Programme, and it is their director Mike who nominated the object for Cornish Object of the Year Award 2019.

The next vlog will feature the ‘Spirit of Ecstasy’ hood ornament and mould, nominated by Wheal Martyn Clay Works.

– Peter Lower, Marketing and Events Intern

Catalyst Programme comes to an end

Over the past 4 years, Cornwall Museums Partnership, with support from Heritage Lottery Fund, has delivered the successful Catalyst business support programme for museums in Cornwall. As the final phase of this programme comes to an end, we wanted to share some of the successes of this practical and effective programme with you.

Museums from all over Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly – as far apart as Bude and St Mary’s, some with no paid staff and some with over 20 members of staff, have benefited from the skills workshops, and provided us with feedback like ‘an excellent balance of learning and practical exercises, the trainer had a wealth of experience’ and ‘very interesting, informative and useful. Lots to share with others and leads to follow-up. Thank you.’

A number of museums have also benefited from mentoring and further business support to help them develop effective fundraising strategies, these organisations have measurably increased their confidence, skills and resources over the course of the programme.

The time and support to write our fundraising strategy has come at exactly the right time. Because of our tiny staff capacity, without the support provided by the Catalyst programme, we would have struggled to make any headway at all.’

Trustees and staff have gained a much greater understanding of the challenges we face and the steps we need to take in order to fundraise successfully.  There has been a profound organisational change insofar as everyone now understands and accepts the need for change and for a major focus on fundraising.’

Readers may view below videos – case studies of museums who have participated in the second and final phase of the Catalyst Programme, namely, Cornwall’s Regimental Museum, Helston Museum and Truro Cathedral.

Tech Review 9 – Video creation and sharing: YouTube (Guest Blog)

This week’s review is guest written by David Mansell, Digital Learning Coordinator at the National Football Museum, Manchester (@footballmuseum; @NFM_Learn; @sivisscientiam)

Overview:

This week, we will be looking at sharing video content through YouTube. This platform is a versatile tool to share internally or externally produced videos. Online video is hugely popular with today’s internet users. Cultural organisations are increasingly looking to video to educate, inspire, and document their activities. This capacity can range from ad-hoc commissions of videographers as part of funded projects, all the way to staff and volunteers producing videos in-house with dedicated equipment. Whatever your means of production, YouTube is a good home for content, especially content that needs to be distributed multiple times across a variety of channels.

What you need:

  • An internet connection.
  • Depending on where your content is stored, either a mobile device or laptop.
  • A Google account for your organisation.
  • Any relevant branding: logos, copy etc.

Instructions:

Posting content on YouTube is an easy (and fun) process. After navigating to the website, you can sign in on the top right using your Google account. If this is your organisation’s first time using the site, you’ll be prompted to start setting up your channel. Your channel is your hub from which you can post your content, and engage with your audience on the site. The layout is simple and is typical of Google’s user-friendly approach.

If YouTube becomes a part of your communications strategy, then this is worth doing with your relevant colleagues who have oversight on such things. Otherwise, feel free to add as much branding and information as you feel is appropriate. Other organisations tend to treat the site as any other digital asset, and so it is common to see their channels branded like their other platforms.

There’s a button next to the search bar for uploading content. Clicking it will allow you to select the file you want from your computer. During this process, you’ll be given the chance to give your video an appropriate title and description, as well as tagging it with relevant search terms. It’s worth spending a little bit of time crafting this to ensure that your content is accessible via the search bar.

You can also make use of some limited editing tools for making minor alterations to lighting and annotations. For those without dedicated editing software, this is a useful tool to improve the quality of your videos. For accessibility purposes, there’s also the option to add subtitles and translations, which the user can enable and disable as required.

Once you are set up, you can access some useful features:

Analytics:

Each individual video you upload allows you to view detailed audience data. Like Twitter and Facebook, YouTube provides real-time info on audience demographics, traffic sources, and playback devices. Additionally, YouTube also provides data on audience retention on each individual piece of content; so you can get insight into when you lost your audience’s attention. This is a huge bonus for creators who are looking to optimise their content for their audience or experiment with new audiences.

Sharing:

Sharing your YouTube content is as easy as clicking the share button on the video player. From there, you can access your other social media, emails, and even an embed links into your website. Sites like Twitter and Facebook allow the user to access the video on their website when viewed on a computer- the analytics are still available on the main YouTube site. You could even create a QR code using the link and put it somewhere in your venue for visitors to access more information on stories and objects.

Technology:

YouTube is at the cutting edge of online video technology. At the upper limit, users can upload videos up to 12 hours long, or 128GB in size! The site also supports resolutions up to 4K. This puts YouTube firmly ahead of other leading social networks in terms of flexibility with videos. For organisations conscious of the long-term viability of the platform, they can be confident that it has so far been ahead of the curve for technological advancements.

Community:

As well as being a home for videos in all shapes and sizes, YouTube has a thriving community who consume billions of hours of content a year. Like other social media channels, YouTube users can like, dislike, and comment on posts, as well as subscribe to channels they watch regularly. Educational content can be a great place to foster debate and engagement. For organisations looking to branch out online, YouTube is a great place to be.

Pros

  • It’s completely free to sign up and post as much or as little content as you like.
  • YouTube is an easy way to access all your video content online and sharing features make distribution easy.
  • Useful analytics reports- great for strategy writing, assessing impact, and KPI monitoring.
  • Powerful technology- whether it’s video uploaded from a mobile device or a crafted feature, YouTube has you covered on compatibility.

 

Cons

  • Setting up a channel can be a lengthy process. The involvement of other staff may be required, to be to ensure that branding guidelines are followed.
  • Content uploading can take a while depending on your internet speed.

 

Who should use this within a museum?

The platform is great for anyone looking to get their video content out there, be they museum educators, digital specialists, content marketers or anybody else with a special interest in video.

General feedback

Online video continues to grow and is a great way to get people excited about heritage. With modern mobile devices putting the power of video at many people’s fingertips, having the right tools to share and grow online is a top priority for heritage staff managing digital development. For those looking to put their video content out there, YouTube is highly recommended.

Score:

Price: 5/5

Ease of use: 4/5

Efficiency: 5/5

Effectiveness: 5/5

Total 19/20

 

David Mansell

Weekly Tech Review – Week 8 Productivity – Canva (design tool)

Overview:

This week we are going to try something different, which can help us create amazing graphic designs without having to be a professional graphic designer. Canva is a free graphic design tool used by professionals, as well as by people who have absolutely no prior design skills. It is a tool which allows users to create custom visual content for Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram posts.

What you need:

  • An internet connection
  • A computer/laptop
  • The Canva website

Instructions:

Let’s start with a hypothetical scenario: you are hosting a museum late celebrating the X museum’s birthday and you want to create a promotional poster to be published on social media for your followers.

  • Open Canva and click on Create a design on the top left. For the purposes of our scenario, we chose the Poster template.
  • First, we’ll pick either a layout or a background photo. Click on LAYOUTS from the list on the left and scroll down to look for one that is suitable for your poster’s purposes. Don’t worry about the text, as it can be altered later on! Alternatively, you can click on the white search box and enter keywords to find a relevant photo to use, but choosing a layout will save you much more time. For our hypothetical scenario’s purposes, we chose a layout that alludes to a celebration of some sort.
  • Now that we’ve got a striking image to draw attention, we need to give our audience some details about the event. Since we’re already working with a template, we can just edit the placeholder text and add in the right details.
  • With Canva you can also upload and add your own images which you can, then, edit, crop, and filter. Simply click on UPLOADS on the left, and then on Upload your own images. After you’ve uploaded an image from your own server, you can drag it from the left-hand side of the page straight to your poster. The editing options are directly above your design.
  • On the left-hand side, you can also see the options ELEMENTS, TEXT and BACKGROUND. You may use these if you’re creating your own design by scratch, but it is an option which is significantly more time-consuming than going for a layout which you can then edit and adjust to your own needs.
  • Voila – our poster is ready! All we have to do now is click Download on the top right corner. Users can choose the format in which they want to download their design. Canva will give you the option to download a watermark-free version of the design, but it will cost you, so we’ll just download the watermark version.

Pros:

  • It’s free!
  • Time-efficiency! It literally took us 5 minutes to do the whole process.
  • It’s extremely simple to use – the website design of this design tool (inception) is so good that everything is straightforward.
  • It offers a comprehensive image library and a collection of templates suitable for different industries.
  • Designs (posters) are printable.
  • You can directly share your design on social media (top right), further cutting down the time needed to create + actually share your design.

Cons:

  • There are additional tools that Canva can offer, but users have to pay to access them.
  • A number of images are not free.

Who should use this within a museum?

Anyone who works with marketing and social media, and event organisers who want to promote events and happenings.

General feedback:

We simply love Canva! It is a rare example of how a single platform can provide users of any level of graphic design with so many awesome possibilities. What is more, we love the fact that it’s free! Remember: presentation is everything. Visual content is 40X more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content! Canva is the best free tool on the market to help you easily create visual content for your museum/charity. If you need any further assistance with how to use Canva, please email me on yiota@cornwallmuseumspartnership.org.uk.

Score:

  • Price – 5/5 
  • Ease of use – 5/5
  • Efficiency – 5/5
  • Effectiveness – 5/5

Overall score: 20/20

Jenny Lee and Yiota Liopetriti

Weekly Tech Review – Week 6 Sketchfab – viewing 3D scans

Sketchfab

Overview:

Following on from last week’s review of publishing 3D models on Sketchfab, we are reviewing the user-experience of Sketchfab. Sketchfab is a platform where you can publish, share and discover 3D content. There are over 1.5 million scenes with a community of over 1 million creators you can follow, making Sketchfab the largest platform for immersive and interactive 3D content. As with most of our reviews, this is a free platform, where there is no cost to upload or access content.

What you need:

  • An internet connection
  • A computer or smartphone
  • The Sketchfab website or app (available for iOS and Android)

 Instructions:

The Sketchfab website is incredibly easy to use and navigate. For the purposes of this review, we visited the profile of the British Museum, who have made a concerted effort to publish 3D models online, and have uploaded 220 to date. Following on from this we explored the models that were tagged as ‘Cornwall’ and then filtered for ‘Cultural Heritage and Museums’. We particularly enjoyed the 3D models created by Tom Goskar.

Pros:

  • Detailed information has been provided next to the models. We selected the Queen piece from the Lewis Chess set – this showed information relating to the date of production, height, material, as well as meta-data about the person who took the 3D scan and what equipment was used.

  • There is the facility for multiple annotations when a model contains more than one object.

  • You can download the model for free, though if you wished to charge, there is the facility. This is dependent upon copyright restrictions – so if you don’t want people to download something, you don’t have to offer it.
  • You can add this model to your own collection, embed it on a website, like it, and share it on social media.
  • You can see how many people have viewed and liked the model, allowing museums to gauge the popularity of objects.
  • There is the facility to set different licenses for the download, for instance, the Queen is Creative Common Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike. The Creative Commons system of licensing is very straightforward, and you can easily work it out here.
  • People can comment on each model, allowing for extra information, feedback, and discussion amongst users.
  • You can tag each model with generic terms, making it easy for people to find your model while browsing.
  • Link to the museum’s website

Cons:

  • We were keen to try out the VR facility on the Sketchfab app with our trusty Google Cardboards, however, we noticed that all of the museum/heritage models that we looked at were not optimised for VR. This is not a criticism of Sketchfab per se, but more of a missed opportunity on behalf of museums. We did find some ‘VR ready’ models and found the experience to be absolutely brilliant, with the ability to move around the object (something that we noticed was noticeably lacking in Google Arts and Culture and Google Expeditions.
  • Viewing objects in VR version works perfectly for iOS devices. However, using an Android device takes a long time for the object to load in VR and, additionally, the user must install the Google VR Services app beforehand, in order to be able to view objects on Google cardboard (or any VR device).

General feedback:

We love Sketchfab! It presents a brilliant opportunity to freely share and disseminate 3D digital content and become a member of this burgeoning online community. We particularly like the idea of being able to comment on models and feel that this would be a useful tool in the co-curation of museum objects, enhancing digital engagement and participation.

We noticed that most of the models that have been tagged as ‘Cornwall’ are archaeological or architectural, so there is a need for museum object to comprehensively display Cornish heritage.

Score:

  • Price – 5/5
  • Ease of use- 5/5
  • Education – 5/5
  • Fun – 4.5/5

Overall score: 19.5

Jenny Lee and Yiota Liopetriti

Weekly Tech Review – Week 3 Kneehigh – Walk With Me app

Kneehigh – Walk With Me app

Overview:

Walk With Me is a free app which offers audio stories and interesting facts around three areas, hence there are three different walks to choose: Mevagissey, Newquay and Perranporth. We randomly picked and tested Mevagissey.

You can listen to the stories ‘rambling’ in the location in GPS mode, or you could choose to experience the stories in the armchair mode.

The walks are of various lengths and, before you set (or start) off, you can listen to a safety warning. Some examples of stories or pieces of information include:

  1. Did you know (with an image of a girl) – story from a girl inspired by Mevagissey museum exhibit
  2. Found – donation of the museum
  3. Doll’s House – inspired by the doll’s house in the museum (includes artwork by Lottie – who wrote the section)
  4. Reminiscences

The stories are based on images, objects and recollections from Mevagissey museum.

Equipment needed:

  • Smartphone
  • Walk With Me app (free, available for Android and iOS)
  • Headphones

Instructions:

  1. Connect with wifi, if you’re using the armchair mode, or turn on your mobile data, if you’re using the GPS mode
  2. Once you’ve downloaded the app, connect your headphones and open the app
  3. On the bottom left-hand side of the screen, there is a ‘HOW TO’ option which gives you, in text and audio, instructions on how to use the app

Pros:

  • You can share your experience with the app – but only links to the app rather than the individual story
  • There is a good mix of information
  • There is a good mix of Illustrations and original photographs
  • The locations’ colours change as you cover more points so you know where you’ve been
  • There are clear instructions on how to use it, with an audio section
  • Worked fine on iOS and android.

Cons:

  • Doesn’t zoom in and out of the map
  • No clear starting point, but then there is no overall narrative, so it doesn’t really matter
  • You need to download the app and the walk – this can exhaust your mobile data or take a long time to download, so try to download both beforehand using a wifi connection

General Feedback:

It was overall an enjoyable experience. The experience would have been better if we had actually done the physical GPS walk. However we found it very convenient that an armchair version is available as this makes it more accessible.

How does it relate to Cornish museums/can be used?

  • The stories and facts are mainly based on the museum, so a similar idea could be developed for any Cornish museum and its surrounding area.
  • It was a great collaborative effort between Kneehigh Theatre and the museum
  • There was strong community involvement to develop the app, especially by young people
  • Good use of GPS technology
  • A very good proof of concept for a location-based app utilising museum/heritage collections.

Score:

  • Price – free, but could incur data costs 4/5
  • Ease of use- 4/5
  • Education – 4/5
  • Fun – 4/5

Total: 17/20

Jenny Lee and Yiota Liopetriti

 

Weekly Tech Review – Week 2 Google Expeditions + Google Cardboard

Last week we launched our Weekly Tech Review, where we started testing and reviewing all things digital. We started off with taking virtual tours using Google Cardboard and the Google Arts and Culture app – you can see our first blog here.

 

Google Expeditions + Google Cardboard

Overview:

Google Expeditions is a virtual-reality teaching tool. Users (or explorers) can swim with sharks, visit outer space, walk through a museum, and more, from the comfort of a house – or a classroom. It was originally created to target students within the classroom environment, but we believe there are countless possibilities for its use and applicability. Just to give you an idea, there are close to 500 expeditions available and more in development.

Similar to our review last week of the virtual reality tours on the Google Arts and Culture app, the aim of this review is to gain an idea of the user experience. Again, we are gauging whether it would be useful for Cornish Museums to create their own expeditionsfor others to experience.

In order to go on such virtual adventures, we, again, used Google Cardboard – available for under £10. Google Cardboard instantly transforms your smartphone into a virtual reality viewer. For the purposes of this review, we selected four different virtual expeditions; (i) the Parthenon, (ii) the Canterbury Cathedral, (iii) the London Transport Museum & their stores, and (iv) the Great Wall of China.

Equipment needed:

Instructions:

  1. Bear in mind that Google Expeditions only works with minimum 2 people: a Guide and at least one Explorer. Everyone needs to be connected to the same WIFI network for the app to work.
  2. First of all, you need to download the Google Cardboard App. This is free (see above).
  3. Open the Google Cardboard App and follow the online instructions to link your phone to your Google Cardboard.
  4. Next, download the Google Expeditions App from your smartphone’s app store. This is free (see above).
  5. Open the app on your smartphone. The person who is the Guide must open the app first and select the Tour Guide option. Then, the Explorer(s), who will also be the one(s) using Google Cardboard, must open the app and ‘follow’ the Tour Guide.
  6. The Guide then has control which expedition to take the Explorer(s) on. They select and download an expedition to, and it then automatically loads on the Explorer(s)’ smartphone.
  7. The Explorer(s) must then insert their smartphone onto Google Cardboard, and the tour starts.
  8. The Guide can read out loud an information text on their screen while the Explorer(s) are talking the tour, focus the Explorer’s attention on specific objects by tapping onto them, and ask questions at the end of the tour.
  9. Enjoy!

Pros:

  • The Google Expeditions app was free to download and Google Cardboard was cheap to buy, making it accessible to a wider audience
  • The experience was engaging, educational and immersive.
  • The visual quality in Google Expeditions was much better than Google Arts and Culture. It was not as jumpy and the users felt more comfortable after they removed Google Cardboard.
  • The Google Expeditions app offers a wide selection of expeditions (virtual tours) – both geographically and thematically, indoors and outdoors.
  • The Guide option allows access to specialist information and a list of questions for the Explorer(s). This is very easy to use by both parties.
  • In addition to the above, the app allows the Guide to focus on specific objects each time, enabling more coordination and cohesion within larger groups of Explorers.

Cons:

  • You can’t go on Google Expeditions unless you use it with at least one more person.
  • The app and the expedition takes a while to load and connect the Guide with the Explorer(s). It might be good to ensure you are using a fast WIFI connection.

General Feedback:

Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed this experience. We got to go to so many different places and learn so much without physically being there. We truly believe that this is a huge possibility for museums in Cornwall to be accessible to everyone within the county and the UK in general, and even globally. Museums have to potentially provide high quality images and content (information and questions).

Score:

  • Price: 5/5
  • Ease of use: 4.5/5
  • Educational benefit: 5/5
  • Fun: 5/5
Total: 19.5/20

 

Jenny Lee and Yiota Liopetriti

Weekly Tech Review – Week 1 Google Arts and Culture + Google Cardboard

This is the first instalment of a weekly review of all things digital. Each week we will look at a different digital application or technology and review it, thinking specifically about how this could be used by the museums in Cornwall.

As Digital Coordinator for CMP, I’m keen to find, and test-drive, new and different technologies, working out which ones will be useful for museums in Cornwall. Over the course of these reviews, we will also be handing devices and gadgets to a selection of museums to be tested by staff and volunteers.

Our primary focus is on low-cost or free applications that can be used with minimal effort and specialist knowledge. Each review will be given a score out of 20 and will be judged against four criteria: 1. cost, 2. ease of use, 3. educational benefit, and 4. fun! Within these reviews will look at the equipment needed, pros and cons and our general feedback.

We hope that through these reviews, you will get an honest and practical insight into how these technologies can be used within your museums, as well as providing achievable ideas!

If there is anything specific you would like us to test and review, or if you are interested in testing anything yourselves, please email me at jennylee@cornwallmuseumspartnership.org.uk 

 

Google Arts and Culture + Google Cardboard

Overview:

Google Arts and Culture is an online platform for museums, art galleries and cultural institutions to display their images online. This also includes Google Streetviews inside museums and virtual tours – it is the virtual tour element that we are trying out this week. In future weeks we will review the other areas of this app.

This initial review of the virtual tour element of Google Arts and Culture looks at how immersive and easy to use these tours are, with a view to creating virtual tours of Cornish museums. In a future week we will review how easy it is to create your own tour, but for this week we are focussing on participating in a tour as a visitor.

In order to test out these virtual tours we used a Google Cardboard; these are available for under £10 and can be purchased easily from Amazon (see equipment list below). Google Cardboard instantly transforms your smartphone into a virtual reality viewer.

For the purposes of this review, we selected two different virtual reality tours; (i) The Peacock Room, Washington DC, USA, and (ii) Dulwich Picture Gallery, London. We were keen to see how these could be used within museums in Cornwall, so we picked tours that presented a similar environment.

Equipment needed:

Instructions:

  1. First of all, you need to download the Google Cardboard App. This is free (see above).
  2. Open the Google Carboard App and follow the online instructions to link your phone to your Google Cardboard.
  3. Next, download the Google Arts and Culture App from your smartphone’s app store. This is free (see above).
  4. Open the app on your smartphone.
  5. Type in ‘Virtual Tour’ in the search bar in the top right-hand corner of the screen.
  6. Select which tour you wish to try from the search results.
  7. Follow the online instructions about inserting your phone into the Google Cardboard.
  8. As you are viewing the tour, you will see an ‘i’ within a circle. This symbol will light up as you hover over it. When the symbol is highlighted, press down the button on the top right of the Google Cardboard.
  9. Enjoy the tour!

Pros:

  • The main thing we liked about this was that the app was free to download and that the Google Cardboard was cheap to buy, meaning that it is more accessible to a wider audience
  • The experience was very immersive.
  • We both agreed that the Dulwich Picture Gallery tour was the better of the two, as it was more detailed and let you navigated around the different rooms within the
  • We were really impressed by the ‘i’ button that popped up on objects or buildings of interest. This provided optional information and interpretation that made this experience education, rather than just a fun virtual tour.

Cons:

We have separated this cons section into two to reflect the different tours that we tried:

Peacock Room Washington, USA

  • The focus was a bit blurred at times, meaning that our eyes got tired quite quickly.
  • The tour didn’t extend into the museum. You could explore the area outside the museum, but when you tried to go inside it just presented a series of painting and documents that could be clicked through.
  • We got lost! The tour had a bad ending and once we were inside the building and looking through the images, we couldn’t work out how to go back. This made the tour feel really disjointed.

Dulwich Picture Gallery

  • The only complaint that we had about this virtual tour was that we couldn’t zoom in on any of the paintings. This meant that while the overall immersive experience was excellent, we couldn’t look at specific items.

General Feedback:

Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed this immersive experience – so much so that we made some involuntary ‘oooh’ and ‘wow’ noises when we put the Google Cardboard on for the first time! We were glad that we tried out two different tours, as this revealed that not all virtual tours are created to the same standard. We much preferred the Dulwich Picture Gallery tour as it provided a much more immersive environment and made us want to visit so we could see the paintings up close.

Score:

  • Price: 5/5
  • Ease of use: 4/5
  • Educational benefit: 4/5
  • Fun: 4.5/5
Total: 17.5/20

 

Jenny Lee and Yiota Liopetriti