From Portraits to Content Production

It has been an exciting and varied few weeks at the Museum of Royal Worcester. One special event was the unveiling of a portrait of Henry Sandon, a great friend of the museum and renowned expert of Worcester Porcelain, whom you may recognise from the Antiques Roadshow. The portrait was painted by local artist Sara Hayward and as you can see, it is full of colour and character, far from what may spring to mind when one thinks of portraiture. The occasion was featured on BBC Midlands Today, and can be viewed here. You may be able to spot me in the background!

Museum of Royal Worcester Henry Sandon PortraitCynthia Crawford

Henry Sandon and Cynthia Crawford MBE, image by John Anyon via Worcester News.

I have also attended several training events, which have generally focused on audiences, as well as making connections with visitors beyond the physical space of the museum or through the collections alone. This is an area I am extremely interested in, as it seems to produce some of the most exciting and creative ideas in museums and galleries.

The first training day was actually led by us, the trainees. With a broad focus on blogging and social media, we talked about writing content as well as more practical aspects. Emalee and I led on a session about how to use WordPress, from changing themes and layouts, to optimising images and posts for search engines. We are also responsible for the redesign of this blog, which we hope you like. Its appearance may be the most obvious change, but our primary aim was to organise the existing content, as well making it easier to navigate. Although none of us claim to be blogging or social media experts, I think we all learnt a lot through sharing our thoughts and ideas, and we are keen to publish content frequently throughout the duration of our traineeships, for our records and for anyone else who may be interested.

Oxford Aspire Training Shelley Mannion British Museum

Shelley Mannion, image from Oxford Aspire.

The most recent training day I took part in was run by Oxford Aspire, and was called ‘Understanding Audiences’. An overview of all four presentations can be found here on their website; I was particularly interested in the talks focusing on audiences and their engagement with digital output. Shelley Mannion, Senior Content Producer at the British Museum, stated that a museum’s digital output is becoming as much a part of a museum experience as the museum itself, an idea I wholeheartedly agree with, as digital natives – I consider myself and my peers to be first-generation – are now entering the workforce, and of course many children born in the West today grow up with technologies like tablets. Although most museums do not have the resources available to the BM, I am keen to incorporate a digital element into some of my projects here at the museum, where possible and appropriate. I think it would be most valuable for us as a way of showcasing archival material and our collection of oral histories, which museum visitors may not be able to see or hear in the galleries. Keep an eye (or RSS feed) out!

Rachel Murphy