Engagement and digital: some thoughts on why and how to do this

Author: Emma Halford-Forbes, Industrial Museums Scotland Coordinator

Speaking with colleagues today there was a lot of chat about engaging with the public online. Both about how important it has been during lockdown, and how important it will be going forwards.

The future of learning and engagement

First up, it’s  worth saying that Museum Galleries Scotland is hosting a session on learning and engagement on 9 July, looking at how learning practitioners have risen to the lockdown challenge and looking forward to changing practice upon reopening – find out more.

During lockdown

When lockdown hit there was a glut of online activity – particularly on social – as museums across the globe were struggling with their purpose and engaging with the public. I certainly found it a bit overwhelming in those early days! But the frenzy of online activity seems to have settled down and there is some great best practice that’s appearing.

Virtual tours and more

There’s been lots of talk about virtual tours – of varying kinds – to engage with the public. Some examples:

  • Discover Point is doing virtual tours of the ship led by staff - find out more
  • Wick Heritage has taken lots of its stories online in Wick Stories 
  • Devil’s Porridge Museum uses 360° virtual reality imaging to tour its site 
  • The University of Dundee has a variety of ways of engaging the public online, from highlights of the collection to online exhibitions 
  • The Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum has a virtual tour here using 3D imaging.
  • Art UK is letting you create your own exhibition online here. If your art is on Art UK, this is a great way for you to work with your collections. If you don,t it’s a great way to engage the public with a theme or a topic.

Engaging volunteers

Digital might be a way for you to engage with your volunteers. Are there tasks you can give them to do from home? If you’re already doing this, we’d love to hear from you with ideas.

Engaging with the public going forwards

Digital is going to be key going forwards in terms of engaging with the public in advance of visits. Data coming out of visitor attractions in England that have already opened indicates all visitors checked out the website before visiting. Best practice is showing that a video of what to expect upon arrival, and what the new visitor experience looks like, is an ideal way of engaging with the public.

More ideas?

Please get in touch if you have ideas to add to this blog, or comments on content. Please let us know if you have any examples of best practice you would be willing to share.