Wot no Fan Museum?
Some of London’s top museums and galleries are working together on a cultural social networking website (yes, yes, we know. Yawn. But keep reading, there are some jokes in a bit, honest). The National Museums Online Learning project launches this week, and unites nine national institutions, seven and three-quarters of them in London (the multicentre Tate and Royal Armories make for the awkward fraction). Users who haven’t heard of Google will be able to search the digital archives of all partner sites in one place. The hub also encourages discussion around objects in the collections, allowing social wetnorkers to form communities based around paintings, potsherds and pelicans.
While we love to see museums making the most of interactive technologies, this system would really come into its own if a few of London’s smaller museums could join in – treasure houses like the Grant Museum, Royal College of Surgeons and Cuming Museum could then compete with their more famous brethren on a level digital playing field. The inclusion of the Sir John Soane’s Museum is a positive nod in this direction.
Perhaps the most exciting aspect is the WebQuests feature aimed at school children. WebQuests act as open-ended educational tools with which students can explore historic collections and think critically about information on the web. As Prince Albert once said, ‘You can’t always trust what you read on the Internet’.