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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.

Navigating the bumpy road: a tactical approach to delivering the digital strategy


This paper will discuss the importance and impact of developing, delivering and sustaining a digital strategy within a cultural organisation. It will use recent experiences at The National Gallery, UK and the Imperial War Museum (IWM), UK to demonstrate why having a strategy is so fundamental to the long-term success of digital development in organisations, and how it can be used as a driver to shape direction for a strategic programme of work that is aligned with organisational needs and priorities.

Both the National Gallery and the IWM are going through periods of organisational change, including reassessing the role and importance of digital in delivering the organisations’ goals. Despite being very different organisations in regard to structure, size and type of collections, there are surprisingly many similarities in aspirations and approach to digital engagement. This paper will provide readers with the fundamental principles of developing a strategy, how to deploy it and embed it for long-term sustainability. It will illustrate these principles by incorporating examples from both institutions throughout.

The paper will focus on the following questions:

Why is a digital strategy needed?

  • exploring the internal and external drivers
  • importance of putting digital at the centre of the organisations’ thinking

How to move from theory to practice to deliver digital programmes?

  • setting priorities for a programme of work
  • measures of success

How to keep the strategy alive and evolving?

  • embedding digital across the organisation
  • evaluating progress/success
  • revisiting and refining the strategy

The principles detailed in this paper and the illustrative practical examples from the National Gallery and Imperial War Museum will be of benefit to any organisation, large or small. It will demonstrate that a digital strategy is more than just a written document. A digital strategy provides a vision and action plan that is a framework and focus for all digital activity across an organisation. By placing digital at the heart of the institution, it can be a genuine driver for change.

Target Audience:
Senior staff, managers, consultants - those interested in strategic planning and project delivery.


Paper - in formal session


charlotte.sexton's picture
I lead the Digital Media department at the National Gallery, London, and am a multi-skilled digital professional focused on creating exemplary user experiences across the digital spectrum. I’ve been responsible for the development of some of the most widely recognised, award-winning projects within...
croyston's picture
I joined Imperial War Museums (IWM) in 2009 as Head of Digital Media and am responsible for the development, delivery and provision of new media across the five IWM branches (IWM London, Churchill War Rooms, HMS Belfast, IWM Duxford and IWM North). This includes web, in-gallery multimedia and...