GLAM/Case studies/Archived/Herbert Art Gallery and Museum/Backstage Pass
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Strengthening their bonds with local Wikimedians is - for GLAMs - an essential part of every collaboration. One way to do this is by playing host to them and organising a Backstage Pass event. 23 Wikimedians came from all over the country to be given tours of normally-unseen areas of the museum, city archives and conservation department and work with museum staff to improve content related to the museum's collections.
1.1 Picking a date
1.2 Coordinating with staff
2 Publicising the event
Getting from "This would be fun" to event day - Planning
Picking a date
The event was in discussion since early spring, museum contact for the partnership Erin Hollis was invited to the Derby Backstage Pass. This was very useful in giving both her and the museum an idea of the potential for an event of that type.
A date was picked: a Saturday was chosen as an imperative, this would allow minors and those who worked Monday-Friday jobs to attend. October 1st was chosen as being suitably far away for the necessary planning to be done.
Coordinating with staff
Erin Hollis from the museum organised the tours among the curators and other museum staff. Tours were chosen which provided introductions to as wide a range of areas of the museum and archives as possible. A schedule was drawn up and a meeting was held to finalise the details of tours.
The complementary lunch was jointly funded by Wikimedia UK and the museum, and was provided by the onsite caterers. Drinks and biscuits were also provided throughout the day.
"We're having an event" - Publicising the event among Wikimedians (and others!)
An event page was created which provided information about the event, for attendees. This page contained a schedule, handy tips (eg. nearby parking), a Q&A section and would eventually house a "results of the day" section which included new articles as well as those worked on on the day (although a more up-to-date results list for the collaboration with the museum as a whole can be found on the English Wikipedia). This page was then publicisied in a number of ways: a geonotice was put up which covered all of England and an announcement was sent to the cultural-partners-l (AKA GLAM-l) and wikimediauk-l lists. Wikimedia UK also publicised it on their Twitter account. A template was distributed to a (regrettably) small number of users and WikiProjects. This proved to be less than fruitful, although this will have been directly due to the low number of pages it was delivered to.
Feedback provided by attendees on the day ascertained that the geonotice was the way that the majority of users found out about the event, although it should definitely be publicised morw widely than this as a number of skins on the English Wikipedia don't display geonotices. Twitter is a good way to tell non-Wikimedians about the event and the local Wikimedia mailing list is a good way of attracting active, local Wikimedians.
The limit of places was not filled which allowed for a number of others to just turn up on the day.
The week before the event, the key team gathered to discuss final plans. The post-lunch talks were discussed as was publicity. Although local media outlets were notified, there was regrettably no coverage. A number of materials were chosen to be displayed in the history centre during the tour there based on the attendees' interests, too.
Erin Hollis held a meeting the the staff to both remind them of the event and answer any queries they had.
Day of the event
Front of house staff had prepared the spaces the night before. A selection of Wikimedia goods ("citation needed" and Wikipedia globe t-shirts as well as Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons logo pin badges) which were free for attendees were dropped off and signs telling attendees which room to go to were put up at intervals between the front door and the room itself.
Erin Hollis from the museum and Roger Bamkin (Victuallers), chair of Wikimedia UK welcomed attendees, before they broke out for tours.
As wide a variety of tours as possible was chosen, to introduce both Wikimedians new to the museum and previous vistors to areas they would not have seen before. Visits to the history centre (formerly the Coventry city archives and local history centre), on-site (and off-site) stores were planned in addition to an introduction to the museum and a tour of all of the galleries and "collections in focus" sessions, where the relevant curator would present on their area of interest.
Senior curator Martin Roberts with some Taxidermy in the onsite store.
Assistant Conservator Martin Grahn talks about conserving mineral samples.
Keeper of Collections Paul Thompson explaining the Whitefriars postern gateway (on the way to the off-site stores at Whitefriars, Coventry).
Senior Curator Martin Roberts with the Piper painting of Coventry Cathedral, destroyed during the Coventry Blitz.
Wikimedia UK director Mike Peel (Mike Peel) gave the first of the presentations. Entitled "Why Wikimedia is GLAM(our)ous", it focused on GLAM collaboration with information on its ins and outs, a brief history of GLAM collaboration in the UK (although the Derby and ARKive projects were subsequently covered in more depth by Andy Mabbet in his talk) and what can be learned from these past partnerships.
Having spent the summer as GLAM Outreach Ambassador at ARKive, Mabbet’s (Pigsonthewing) presentation focused on his role within that project and what had been accomplished. ARKive is a website run by charity Wildscreen, and is devoted to storing information on endangered species. A selection of texts from their database was released under Creative Commons licenses for use in Wikipedia. He also discussed the Derby Museums collaboration and in particular their use of QR codes and how his article on the King of Rome had gone beyond being merely an article.
Slides of these talks are available online. (Mike Peel's, Andy Mabbet's)
After another set of tours, the attendees returned, enthused, to the main room to start editing. Tables and chairs which had been stacked at the side of the room during the day and were brought out now.
Only a few articles were created on the day whilst a couple of others were expanded as well. All the results of the day can be found on the event page. Museum staff also made attendees aware of resources they could access online (such as http://www.coventrycollections.org which lists much of the collections of the museum and archives).
Before leaving for dinner, Wikipedians took a group photo to remember the day by.
End of the day
Their number by now reduced, the Wikipedians made their way to nearby Wetherspoon's pub/restaurant: The Flying Standard. Food at Wetherspoon's establisments is generally affordable and of an acceptable quality and are often used for meetups in the UK because of this.
The event went very well: the Wikimedians in attendance were enthusiastic about the collections of the museum and many began articles either on the day or in the subsequent week, or so. Staff were supportive of the event with many coming in on a day when they would normally not have been working. Attendees also came not only from the Midlands but from further afield: there was representation from the South of England to Wales. That's because events like this are relatively rare even in the UK where there are a lot of GLAM-related activities going on.
Events such as this are different for every museum and even though lessons can be learned from others, what each institution wants out of a Wikimedia partnership will be different.