The New Art Gallery Walsall

The New Art Gallery Walsall

Julie Brown, 17.06.2013
A West Midlands museum development officer grant enabled the New Art Gallery Walsall to appoint Andy Mabbett as our Wikipedian-in-residence between May and June.

Andy, a freelance digital consultant, has been a Wikipedia editor for 10 years and has also worked as a Wikipedian-in-residence with ARKive, Staffordshire Heritage Service, and Lancashire County Council’s Museum Service.

He has also been involved in projects with the Black Country Living Museum and the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists, as well as teaching Wikipedia editing at universities.

Andy ran seven free sessions at the New Art Gallery Walsall, which introduced members of the public to Wikipedia and gave them the knowledge and skills to create their own articles and improve existing ones.

Each session began with an informal behind-the-scenes tour of the gallery, giving participants the opportunity to delve into our collection store and archive room for inspiration. Using the new free wi-fi facility in the gallery, participants then worked on their own laptops and on the art library’s computers. Refreshments were provided for participants.  

The project has allowed the New Art Gallery Walsall to be more accessible, and for its collections and archives to reach the widest possible audience.     

By training staff in how to use Wikipedia, they are now able to contribute new articles, edit existing ones and add content about our collections without breaching Wikipedia’s conflict of interest guidelines.  

We have now started to make use of QRpedia, a sister project that places QR codes next to works on display in our galleries that then link to a relevant Wikipedia entry.

These articles can be available in different languages, and we hope to encourage volunteers to translate Wikipedia entries relating to the gallery into other languages to have more international access to our collections.

After the success of this pilot project it is hoped that we can gather enough interest to continue with a regular Wikipedia meet-up group based in our art library.

Julie Brown is the collections curator at the New Art Gallery Walsall