I’ve been pretty quiet over the last few months on the blog front, but behind the scenes I’ve been working away at lots of different things. The project I’m most excited about is our Pocket histories and Picturebank project and I can exclusively reveal for the first time (in public anyway) that the products of this are due to launch in March!
I blogged in August (can’t believe it was that long ago!) about the consultation that we did at the beginning of this project and a little bit about what we have planned, but now I’m back to tell you a bit more about how the project has taken shape.
I’m really proud of this project because it’s the biggest one that I’ve managed, and it’s involved a lot of people, a lot of hard work and a lot of planning and I’m really excited about launching the resources next month because, who cares about modesty, I think they’re great!!
A little bit about the pocket histories and picturebank
Our official description says this:
‘The pocket histories explore London’s history through objects from the Museum of London’s collections. Picturebank supports the pocket histories with images for educational use.’
Essentially, each pocket history topic takes 5 images (almost all of objects in the Museum’s collection) and uses them to tell the stories of London’s past.
In the Picturebank, users can search or browse by period or topic
These images (or most of them anyway) are then used in the picturebank where users (probably mainly in schools) can browse them by topic or by period, or just do a keyword search. Once users have found an image, they can enlarge it, read a simple caption about it, use some prompt questions to start a discussion about it and find out whether or not it’s on display at the Museum.
The pocket histories cover loads of fascinating topics like
- What was life like in Tudor London?
- Why were London’s docks built?
- London Plagues 1348-1665
- What was life like for children in Victorian London?
- The ‘London Look’: London fashion trends 1950–2002
- Political Protest in London, 1750–1900
And we hope to add more in the coming years.
You’ll be able to read the pocket histories online, or download and print a PDF that’s all nice and designed and pretty if you’d prefer.
This is a sneak preview of what one of the nice, designed PDF versions look like
So who are they for?
The pocket histories are ideal for anyone who’s interested in London’s history and we’re hoping that they’ll gradually work become pages that people stumble on on Google even if they don’t necessarily know about the Museum of London.
As well as this general audience, we think they’ll be particularly useful for secondary school students doing research, primary school teachers preparing lessons or a visit to the Museum, or parents helping their children with homework or just helping them learn more about London’s history.
We designed the picturebank for a more specific schools and colleges audience because we think that it’ll work best on an interactive whiteboard or in an ICT suite. The captions were written with children in mind and we’ve chosen the images that we’ve included very carefully to make sure that we can give teachers free rein to view, copy and print the images for use in their classroom or for private research (any other use, including sharing the resources would need to be negotiated with the Museum first).
About the project
One of the reasons I’ve most enjoyed this project is because I’ve worked with some really great people on it and I think this has been absolutely integral to why I’m so proud of the resources. We have a core project team of two curators (Meriel Jeater and Beverley Cook), 4 audience-y type people (representing the schools team – Kirsty Sullivan, the inclusion team – Kirsty Marsh, the families team – Sandra Hedblad, and the adults team – Julie Carr), and a representative of the Information Resources Section (IRS) – Matthew Rose. Having curators on board since the beginning of the project has really ensured that the topics we cover are grounded in our collection, our expertise, and the themes in our galleries. Having representatives of all our target audiences on the team has been completely invalauble from the point of view of making sure that we create resources that are suitable for and interesting to all audiences. And having the IRS perspective from Matthew who knows our collections management database inside out has been essential, particularly for the picturebank. We’ve also had a team of curators and writers outside the project team who we couldn’t have done without, and a host of other people across the museum who’ve been so helpful and so supportive.
We’ve had some brilliant discussions in our monthly project meetings where we took the time at the start to really think about why and how we would create the resources, and what we were trying to achieve. It’s meant that we thought carefully about each one and it’s made them, I think, really strong, grounded, accessible and interesting resources (but that’s just me, you’ll have to let me know what you think when they go live!)
I alluded just now to our collections management database, and this leads me on to another really exciting (if maybe a little nerdy) part of the project. I won’t go into the technical ins and outs, but a big advantage of our new picturebank is that it links to our collections management database. This means that if a curator takes an object off display, or maybe adds a bit more information to a record, or takes a photo of another aspect of it, once they update our collections management database, that information will be passed through to the picturebank – cool huh?
So I promise to try and blog again when the resources are up. There’s no point me putting the links here yet because they’re not up yet, but I hope this gives you a bit of a sneak preview of what to expect, and hope you’ll be of the same opinion as me about them – I think they’re great!