Do you need help creating online content?

Free training, mentoring and technical support from the Making it FAIR project

We are looking for eight small museums to join an exciting new project which explores digital content and storytelling with collections. Our Making it FAIR project  is funded through AHRC’s Towards a National Collection (TaNC) programme and was developed in response to challenges faced by smaller museums struggling to engage online with audiences during lockdown, and beyond. 

This opportunity offers eight museum places and requires two people (staff and/or volunteers) from each museum to take part over a period of five months, beginning in early April 2021. The group will receive free training, mentoring and technical support to develop digital collections-focussed content, helping them to stay connected with existing audiences and to reach new audiences.

With our support, participants will plan, carry out, track and analyse a simple digital content activity. Making it FAIR (the FAIR data principles state that data should be Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable) will give the group a safe and supported space in which to try out new ideas and to develop the skills, approaches, processes and, where relevant, technical solutions they need to create engaging, relevant, fit-for-purpose digital content.  

The project partners – Collections Trust, University of York, Culture24, The Audience Agency, Museum of London Archaeology, Intelligent Heritage and Knowledge Integration – bring a range of specialist expertise to help the group explore, develop and realise their digital collections content experiments.  We will learn from the museums’ challenges and successes as they go, drawing out insights and building prototypes for TaNC and the wider sector.    

Interested in joining us? 

This is a fantastic opportunity to:

  • Create some great digital content
  • Connect more meaningfully with audiences
  • Work with a set of highly experienced digital experts
  • Develop personal digital skills and confidence
  • Build your museum’s digital capacity
  • Be part of a friendly and supportive community of practice. 

Applications are open until 10am on Monday 1 March. Read on to find out more and how to apply.

All workshops, meet-ups and support sessions will take place online. Participants will be invited to join our online community network, which will hold the programme’s resources, conversations and peer support. We will also use participatory digital tools to capture collaborative working and group feedback. Participation in the programme is free. 

Museums will be selected as project partners on the understanding that they are keen to take part and their nominated participants are willing to commit the time and thinking space needed in order to reap the full benefits for their organisation. They will be expected to:

  • Provide two staff members or volunteers to take the lead on project activity, be the main point of contact, complete any necessary paperwork and evaluation, attend workshops and disseminate learning from the project amongst colleagues
  • Support their nominated participants in planning, carrying out, tracking, analysing and iterating upon a series of simple digital content experiments, focussed on digital collections
  • Support their nominated participants in identifying and reaching their target audiences via the experiments outlined above in their own channels
  • Support their nominated participants in reflecting on their process and insights, contributing to resources or case studies where relevant.

Individual museum staff or volunteers who take part will need to:

  • Commit to engage with fellow participants, playing an active role in our community of practice 
  • Commit to work experimentally and collaboratively both as part of the project group and also within their organisation.
Timings 

It is hard to be exact about the amount of time the project will take up for each museum, as that depends upon the scale and focus of their experimentation. The more time participants are willing to give, the more they and their museum will benefit. The table below is a provisional guide.  

Workshops, webinars and meet-ups Attendance at 5 group workshops, the core programme, plus approximately 10 webinar or group meet-ups around specific topics
One-to-one and small group support sessions At least 5 x one-hour sessions (more if you need it) 
Self-directed experimentation and learning Depends on context – at least 3 days per month
Reflection, writing up insights (with our support) and dissemination  Depends on context and is interwoven with experimentation – approximately 2 days in total 

All project partners understand how hard it has been for museums over the last year. We will be sensitive to museum partners’ resourcing and capacity limitations in all of our planning and scoping, and do our best to be flexible around museums’ needs wherever possible. All workshops and contact with the project will take place online. 

We’ve shaped this project around the activity that museums will either already be doing or, if not, would like and need to be doing. This is about helping museums to work with what they already have, more effectively and more strategically. 

Who can apply? 

This opportunity is open to small, Accredited, UK-based museums, defined as those with an annual operating budget in a normal (ie pre-Covid) year of up to £250,000. We aim to gather a diverse group that represents a range of collection types and contexts. We are also happy to accept applications from museums that are working towards Accreditation.

The programme will suit museums and people who are keen to explore and improve the way they work, with an open and enquiring mindset, and the motivation to learn and connect as part of a group. Participants do not need any particular level of digital skill or confidence; we will support them whatever their starting point. 

Participants don’t need to hold any particular role within the museum as we understand that, for most staff and volunteers in small museums, everyone wears many hats. However, they do need to be people who create digital content around collections within their role, and who have the remit to explore and develop the processes and approaches around that content creation.   

Consolidated/Convair Aircraft Factory in San Diego
Just to be clear – the online support from Making it FAIR won’t look exactly like this… (Image: SDASM Archives/Flickr Commons/no known copyright restrictions.)
How to apply

To apply to be part of the project please send a short expression of interest (700 words max) detailing:

  • Why your museum would like to take part
  • A brief overview of what (if anything) your museum has done to date with digital content 
  • Any ideas or plans you have for use of digital collections content in the future
  • Why this fits into your organisational priorities right now 
  • Who from your museum would be involved, and
  • Which collections management system you use (if any) 

Please  email to office@collectionstrust.org.uk  by 10am on Monday 1 March.