On 23 March, St Paul's Church, in St Paul's Square, in Birmingham's historic Jewellery Quarter, became the first church in the world to use QRpedia. This came about when, a week before, Wikimedia volunteer and QRpedia activist Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing) was early for a Wikipedia training session he was to deliver at the nearby Royal Birmingham Society of Artists. As Andy explains:
It was a lovely evening, so I sat on a bench outside the church, listening to the birds singing, when a man came out to put away a free-standing noticeboard. It suddenly occurred to me that the board could be displaying a QRpedia code, linking to the Wikipedia article about the church, or the square in which it sits. I approached him - he turned out to be their "Church Watch", or curator, Dennis Cluley - and introduced myself. When I described the project, he readily agreed that we should collaborate on it.
However there was a problem. Andy continues:
I told him that the article about the church was bound to exist in lots of languages as it has links with James Watt and Matthew Boulton. But when I got home and checked it was only in English!
Andy made an urgent appeal on the GLAM project's cultural partners mailing list and within a few days the article had been translated by volunteers from around the world, into another ten languages (although more are still welcome!). The church now displays QRpedia codes linking to the articles about itself and the square, as well as Matthew Boulton and James Watt (each alongside the location of their respective private pews), and the artists who designed and made its east window (Benjamin West & Francis Eginton). Codes for the architect who added its spire (Francis Goodwin), and its famous organist (James Stimpson), will be added shortly.
The entire project cost £0.40. Andy is now looking for other notable churches, and other venues, with an interest in participating in QRpedia.
Following an introduction from the organisers, the attendees split into groups to be given a guided tour of the the watercolours exhibition and the on-site Coventry History Centre. The main focus of the day, however, was editing and using the many sources provided by the museum, experienced Wikimedians began work on articles as the 3 newbies were given training on how to edit the site with a several even starting work on articles.
After lunch, editing continued with new articles including:
David Gee (an artist featured in the watercolours exhibition)
The museum also donated a further 9 images of their collections to Wikimedia Commons during the event. The full collection of all images donated so far can be found on Wikimedia Commons.
The day was invaluable for the partnership with The Herbert. Not only were several new articles written but the new editors will help to keep the the ball rolling. There are plans for another event later in the year, aimed at non-editors.