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Museums and the Web

An annual conference exploring the social, cultural, design, technological, economic, and organizational issues of culture, science and heritage on-line.

Designing activities to encourage online engagement with museum collections


This half-day workshop is for people who want to set up online activities for their visitors for the first time or who have some experience of doing this but want to expand or deepen their work. It will focus on the design of activities and not the technology. The aim will be for participants to go home with a number of ideas that they might put into practice on their own websites. 

The workshop will combine approaches. There will be intense input using content from a variety of sites but essentially the session will be very practical, with small groups working together to share experience and to solve problems that may have come from their own museum. I plan to contact participants in advance to find out what particular issues they face and or are hoping to find solutions to.

I find it hard to say now what the exact content will be but I will come well prepared with background and stimulus material. We might, for example, think about how we would set up an activity based round the use of Flickr or Twitter or some other off-site facility. We could choose a topic like recycling and devise online activities to encourage debate of the issues. We might think about activities that ended by generating output in the form of a set of postcards from Moo or a book from Blurb. We could discuss the ways of stimulating deep engagement with serious art history or scientific issues. We could test ideas. We might discuss the value of user profiles or the impact of differing learning styles on this type of work or find ways of making connections between the gallery and the website.  All participants will have a folder of useful material to take away.

I will work to make the time varied, stimulating, fun, creative, active and participatory and above all I want everyone who attends to find ideas relevant to their own situation and the motivation to go away and carry some of them out. In addition I hope to run the event in a social way so anyone new to the conference will leave this workshop knowing a few people to have a drink with in the days that follow.


Workshop - full or half day


Gail Durbin's picture
Gail Durbin is a freelancer in the areas of museums, the web, social media and user-generated content. From 2002 to 2011 she was the Head of V&A Online where she was responsible for digital and media projects. She started her career as a history teacher and has worked for Norfolk Museums...

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