On Tuesday evening I nipped up to the University of Dundee to take part in a series of presentations followed by discussion on the theme of ‘Technology and the Museum’. The event took place in the University’s Carnelley Building, in the room which currently houses the D’Arcy Thompson Zoology collection, which meant that in addition to the audience we were in the presence of everything from stuffed crocodiles to hippopotamus skulls.
The event was part of NEON, Dundee’s Digital Arts festival and brought together four speakers (one virtual) to discuss their experiences of ‘digital’ either within their own museum service or in relation to the sector in Scotland, which was the subject of my own presentation, with a specific focus on social media activity.
Sarah Cowie from East Lothian museums gave an entertaining overview of East Lothian’s use of social media to engage with the local community and wider audiences and it was refreshing to hear how much has been achieved through making use of free tools. Richard Brinklow from The McManus then talked about the evolution of the digital elements of the McManus redevelopment and finally we had a film of Ger Malcolm from the Hunterian about their star objects iPhone app, developed with a student of the university.
The presentations and subsequent questions from the audience generated some interesting discussion. The fact that the audience was not specifically museum-focused and primarily students from a variety of courses, raised some interesting debate on the place of the physical museum in a world increasingly dominated by virtual activity and also in thinking about how museums can work creatively to take advantage of what technology has to offer, without big budgets.
Thanks to Matthew Jarron from the University’s museum service for organising the event. I’d be keen to hear comments from anyone who was at the event or who has experiences to share in this area.