I had heard of this conference many months ago and was quite interested in attending. So imagine how pleased I was to hear I was accepted as a volunteer for Museums and the Web, Asia (MWA2015).

MWA2015

As a volunteer I was asked to give up a Sunday afternoon but seeing as I got to pack conference bags with a group of the most interesting Museum staff and volunteers, I wasn’t too fussed. On Monday I helped out in two workshops, in the morning a hands-on content strategy workshop run by Conxa Rodà from the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain and in the afternoon a developing a digital strategy for your organisation workshop with Steven Smith from KPMG Australia. On Tuesday I volunteered in a session called Innovation and Play in Museums which featured Catherine Styles from Sembl, Australia talking about Museums & the playful web – a revolution in sensemaking and a team from Flinders University and ACMI talking about What Retrogamers can teach the Museum.

There were two things I enjoyed most about this conference, getting to see Museums from a management perspective and meeting people I had only known on Twitter (Hi Jareen!). I volunteer in a Museum and to an extent I had already seen “behind the scenes” but this conference made me aware of what Museum Management discuss. It was like peeling back another layer and instead of seeing the muscle I was getting a glimpse at the bone (support structure) that make Museums work.

So let me tell you what I thought of MWA2015 workshops and sessions I attended.

Conxa’s workshop inspired me to think about the ways I consume Museum content as a user. She helped me to realise there is a distinct difference between content and delivery. For example it’s not just about ‘having an app’, what is the point in one if the content on it is sub-par? Content should be created first and content should be flexible enough to work across all delivery platforms. I really enjoyed the exercises of Conxa’s workshop, for someone aspiring to work with digital collections in future, her advice regarding content strategy was priceless.

I found Steven’s workshop to be useful in a similar way. When we went around the tables introducing ourselves, I was particularly interested to hear what everyone else thought as their ‘digital strategy challenge’. Many agreed that resources both human and money were an issue, while others said support from higher up and company culture was an issue for them. I also got the feeling that “digital manager” (or a similar title) was a position undergoing sudden growth in the Museum world, as about 4-5 people in Steven’s workshop had recently taken on such jobs in the last 2 weeks.

The Keynote speaker on Tuesday also spoke about digital strategies. By this point it was pretty obvious to me that anything ‘digital’ was the new buzz word for Museums, which is understandable…

because it is undeniable that users expect to be able to interact with almost anything online, including cultural institutions. So to continue to be relevant to users Museums have been using more ‘digital’ methods to interpret their collections for users. Today, cultural institutions put together video like Museum Victoria’s Making Histories project or visual ways to search and connect collections.

The above links are also part of another blog post I have put together which contains all links and further reading I picked up at MWA2015. I am glad I got to go to MWA2015 as this conference has helped me to understand the strategies Museums employ to bring a good idea to fruition. I am now more keen than ever to gain experience in digital collections and content management.

Till next time!
DFTBA (Don’t Forget to be Awesome)

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