Tag Archives: national trust

National Trust Collections Online

I said in my previous post that I had been working on something quite big recently and it seems a shame to not do a post about it and here it is; National Trust Collections Online.

National Trust Collections Online allows you to search the majority of our collections

Last Friday the Trust launched a website which allows the public to search ourcollections. Currently we have 735,045 items are online and it contains all the things you might expect to find in our collections such as great work of art at Petworth through to Ellen Terry’s ‘Beetle Wing’ dress which she wore as Lady Macbeth. However there are also the things you might not expect such as blouses from Marks and Spencer! It is certainly well worth looking at and is accessible online here:
Why not have a look and see what our staff have selected as highlights of our collections, which can be seen by view our collections a-z and selecting one of our places!

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Back to Basics

I’ve been incredibly busy the past few weeks, working on the finishing touches on a rather large project which I will almost certainly do a blog entry about next week. As such I haven’t had time to update my blog recently, however getting a reference by IWM’s Social Interpretation Project reminded me to update the blog. It looks like an incredibly interesting project!

So what have I been up to recently, while apart from working on my rather large project. I have also been heavily involved in an inventory project at some of our London Places, mostly 2 Willow Road and Fenton House.

2 Willow Road - © NTPL / Dennis Gilbert

2 Willow Road, one of the places where we are currently working on our inventories.

 Although we use the term inventory project as a catch-all term for what we’re doing, it actually involves lots of different elements of work. A colleague of mine has been working on loans at 2 Willow Road and cataloguing some really interesting objects. We both spent part of last week taking inventory photographs of objects at Fenton House ranging from lots of paintings through some brilliant early keyboard instruments. Of course it isn’t all hard work and finished off on Friday night at a rather eccentric pub in Belgravia where you can’t use mobile phones and has a rather interesting range of objects on the walls including some bayonets over the fireplace.

If this sounds like the sort of thing you might be interested in doing we are also currently looking for four interns to work with us on the project. The information should be appearing on Leicester University Museum Studies Jobs Desk tomorrow. However if you are interested you can also contact me directly here and I will send you all the information you need to apply along with an application form.

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The Battle for Quebec

One of our places in Kent is Quebec House which was the childhood home of James Wolfe. Wolfe commanded the British Forces at the siege of Quebec and the Battle of the Plains of Abrahams. You can a short introductionary video about this interesting house below which boasts one of the largest Wolfe related collections.

James Wolfe had joined his fathers regiment at 13th and by Quebec had already served in several campaigns.

With the anniversary of Wolfe’s victory approaching this next week on the 13th September. I thought this would be an ideal apportunity to put a few highlights from the collection and do a post what would be Wolfe’s finest and final victory.

James Wolfe was from a military family, his father was General Edward Wolfe and who had served in numerous campaigns including the War of Spanish Succession, the 1715 Jacobite Rebellion and the War of Jenkins Ear. James himself joined his father regiment of 13 and by the time of Quebec had already fought in the War of Austrian Succesion, the 1745 Jacobite rebellion and the early stages of the 7 years war with France.

A map of Frances Territory in Canada, the battle of Quebec would see the begining of the end for French rule and allow the British to move against Montreal the following year.

Having impressed William Pitt the Elder, he was raised the rank of Brigadier General and sent to fight in Canada, then known as New France. Having aquitted himself admirably at the seige and capture of Louisbourg, Wolfe was selected to lead British efforts against Quebec, the capital of New France and French Canada.

Having arrived at Quebec using the St.Lawrence river, Wolfes forces occupied the land around Quebec and started what would become a 3 months long siege.

The British army under Wolfe’s command would sail up the St.Lawrence and lay siege to the city with the goal of siezing Quebec before Winter set in. Aware of Wolfe’s plan, the French Commander, the Marquis de Montcalm had several weeks to prepare defenses and Wolfe was forced the besiege the city for 3 month.

The Battle on the Plains of Abrahams was the end of almost 3 months siege which had left many of the building in the city rubble.

Following a 3 month bombardment of Quebec and an inconclusive action fought north of Quebec at Beaupont, Wolfe settled on an risky plan to land his troops ambhibiously below cliffs to the South West of Quebec before winter set in.  His troops scaled the cliffs, known as the heights of Abraham. In the morning Montcalm was confronted by the British army on the Plains having scaled the heights he believed unscalable.  The French Army advanced to meet the British who were held from firing until the last moment, their volley causing disruption and casualties in the French lines causing them to retreat. The battle had lasted only 15 minutes.

The Marquis Montcalm, the commander of the French forces at Quebec would also die of his wounds the day following the fight. This print depicts his death in many ways similar to the Death of Wolfe, although the Marquis is shown in more comfort than his British counterpart.

The battle is notable for both leaders dying, Wolfe dying within minutes of winning his most famous victory. The defeated Montcalm would die the next day from his wounds. Wolfe’s victory at Quebec would enable the British to push towards Montreal the following year and secure Canada for the British. Along with the victory in Quebec, there were British victories in india, at Minden in Europe and at Sea ending French hopes of invading the U.K.

The Death of General Wolfe, after the version by Edward Penny. Penny's version is thought to be more accurate than the more famous painting by Benjamin West showing Wolfe's death.

If you are interested in the Seven Years War, Quebec House is well worth a visit and has had installed a new exhibition this year recounting the story of the battle. Why not visit this weekend? Where Quebec House and the Town of Westerham will be holding a Soldier and Scarecrow weekend where re-enactors will be recreating the French and Indian Wars!

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More on QR Codes and Smart Phones

I talked about QR codes a few weeks ago and you can see that entry here. Judging by the amounts of hits the entry got, it would appear I’m not the only person who has been considering QR codes.

As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, I’m an avid reader of Nina Simon’s blog Museums 2.0. This week she has blogged about QR codes, and I had a ‘doh!’ moment. You can read Nina’s blog entry here.

In my original entry I pointed that not many people know about QR codes, although it never dawned on me to offer a solution. Which is where Nina’s entry fills in the blanks I missed out! QR codes without context only appeal to a small audience, by putting the code in context they become more appealing to a general audience. It’s not rocket science, which is why I am a little embarrased I never even considered it in my original post!

One of the other things I said was not everyone has a smart phone, on that note you may find this article by the BBC interesting. The general tag line is a third of adults use a smart phone, however there are loads of interesting bits of information in there.

There is a potentially massive audience with smart phones out there. Are QR codes the best way to engage this increasing audience?

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the web is what you make of it

I was watching TV last night and saw the new U.K Google Chrome Advert, it was a really good advert and well worth checking out. Apart from highlight alot of googles services, it really made me think. I think in many ways it sums up so much about the ways we are increasingly using the web such as photo sharing/video sharing etc. It also had the fantastic end line of ‘the web is what you make of it’.

Way back at the begining of the year I posted a overview of the ones to watch in digital/social media. One of the main things that was predicted is that online photo sharing would become more popular. Well I think we can say that this definitely probably true. Last week Twitter dived into the photo and video sharing experience with a native picture/video sharing function. You can check out what this will look like here.

Of course just like the google advert says, the web is exactly what you make of it. I’ve never been a huge fan of Twitter, maybe because not many of my friends are on Twitter. However I can see the huge potential these new functions. My interests are in collections, so you post your top ten objects using a #tag to your twitter followers, or perhaps have an object of the month #tag. I think the potential to crowd source lots of interesting photos which is really exciting! You could do with anything hashtagging pictures of peoples own favourite objects through to pictures from events or even favourite landscapes.

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Quick Hit: Our Digital Future

My fianceé sent me this link today; I think it’s a fantastic article about how future generations will view digital and the web in general and well worth a read because it envisages not unlike National Trust Strategy how things will be in 2020.

I won’t re-write the article but this is the basic introduction or follow this link to the whole article! Happy Reading!

Are you ready for the connected generation?

The rise of Generation C, Roman Friedrich, Michael Peterson and Alex Koster, Strategy + Business, Issue 62, Spring, 2011. pp55-61.

The ‘C’ in Generation C stands for connected, communicating, content-centric, computerised, community-oriented, always clicking. It’s the generation born after 1990, whose whole reality has been shaped by the Internet, mobile phones and social networking. This is illustrated in a great introduction that provides a future snapshot into the life of a 20-year-old in 2020.

The authors’ thought-provoking message is that increasingly sophisticated technologies and a new generation of tech-savvy people entering the workplace will have major implications for organisations in terms of how their business operates and the nature of work.

Key messages

  • Generation C people have owned handheld devices all of their lives and often use them for up to six hours a day. They have mobiles but prefer sending texts. They use their computers for social media such as instant messaging, Facebook and YouTube.
  • The boundaries between work and personal activities will become increasingly blurred over the next decade, with 24/7 mobile and internet connectivity the norm.
  • This has huge implications for the nature of work and working. Organisations need to look at more flexible working, changes to hierarchical organisational structures and a move to more virtual work communities, often operating out of different countries.
  • Not surprisingly, the authors suggest that telecoms is the industry likely to be most affected, but they also highlight the impact on other sectors such as healthcare, where consumers will have access to more information on diagnoses and treatments, and social media will be used for medical research.
  • Organisations need to start thinking now about the strategies they will adopt when Generation C enters the workplace by 2020, and should see the changes not as a threat but as a means to increased organisation success.

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Where did the images come from?

I’ve not posted for a while having been on holiday been dragged around potential wedding venues, not always a major chore when the venues include Fountains Abbey and Gibside. I did however manage to get away long enough to check out the new Northern Spirit Exhibition at the Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle Upon Tyne.

It was a good exhibition and has already been reviewed by the Museums Journal so I won’t recover old ground. There were a couple of features that touch upon my special interest of all things social and digital though.

Firstly, and I didn’t take a picture of this as it was against Tyne & Wear Museums photography policy, there was digital access on touch screen devices which provided more information about the objects on show.

A projected image from a photo competition on Flickr

However the major thing I was impressed at was a projector of images just outside the exhibition. The projector was showing images which had been collected via flickr as a competition. There was also a touch screen showing a map allowing people to click on locations and view the images. What was most interesting about the projected images was how long people stood around looking to see if they knew where it was.

I think it was a fantastic example of a linked up approach with use of social media and a real world presense. There was certainly a real sense of dialouge and user interaction, which really impressed me.

People (alas my brother and sister in law) trying out the touch screen interface

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Quick Hit: Digital Roundtable

We’re in the middle of an office move here at our hub at Polesden Lacey and I haven’t really had time to post anything substantial this week!

However I have noticed an interesting article in the Museums Journal this month. You can view the article here if you are a member.

For those of you who aren’t I think a summary of the key points I took from it would be that (and everyone says this) lack of time, fear of allowing open access/dialogue and lack of knowledge are major threats to our digital offers. We don’t always think about whom our digital offer is for and all to often fall into the trap of ‘we must do social/digital media’ simply because we think ought to. Finally we don’t alway evaluate our digital presence well.

It’s an interesting piece and well worth a read!

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Asking the right questions?

Facebook released a new version of facebook questions on Thursday which can be used on brand pages. The new version of Facebook questions has a couple of interesting features, as opposed to asking questions of people you don’t know, the whole set up of facebook questions is aimed at asking your friends. It also seems to have developed quite a response on facebook and number of questions already.

Just like using this Edwardian telephone to ask a friend for some advice or to answer a question, facebook friends allows you to ask all your friends any question you want! © National Trust / Andrew Fetherston

When asking a question, users can not only create a poll but also ask a question with an open ended answer. For instances like ‘a place to visit on a rainy day’ where the answer is short, users can use a web page or a place for the recommendation. For more open ended questions the response builds using the comments. With the increase in respondents the bar fills up blue as shown in the picture below. Questions that people answer automatically appear in their news feed and can be shared with their friends. A really popular question can generate lots of interest on the web.

The potential to gain information from your friends about your brand is certainly useful. Especially when considering one of the questions I always get asked when promoting social media is how do we know if people visit our properties after seeing a facebook update etc. Well now you can ask and the helpful folk at mashable have created this handy guide!

Interesting to see that Mac isn't far behind the PC in this response to a facebook question yesterday, also worth noting is the just over 22,000 respondents in only 15 hours.

Of course with everything it’s all about the type of responses you get, if a question is open you may not find out anything but if it is closed to restrain the diversity of response. Although you will get really useful information you also get silly responses too if a question is open ended.

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The Elephant in the Room

I was at a digital media conference last week, and one of things that was mentioned is that Wikipedia is probably the first source of information people use in looking for any topic.

There is also a general assumption that wikipedia unreliable, it has in recent years made moves to correctly insist on correct citations for the information on the site.

Last year the British Museum had a Wikipedian work on site for 5 weeks to improve the standard of articles relating to objects in its collection. The Brooklyn Museum embraced wikipedia with it’s seductive subversive wikipedia work and Imperial College London have been in the news in the last day or so and they too are starting to embrace Wikipedia.

The start of the visitor journey? Our National Trust website is top but Wikipedia is 2nd. Which do people click?

The visitor journey framework is often used in talking about the overall visitor experience, our websites are often the first place we assume people visit who want stimulation or planning information. However where does a visitors journey really start? With Wikipedia’s growth as not only a search result but a developing reputation for a source for a quick and general information on any topic. Wikipedia has perhaps become one of the first places where a visitors journey really starts?

Wikipedia is here to stay and with a readership of 365 million per month it may very well the best place to start if you want to engage an online audience.

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