Immersive technology and folklore subject specialist networks launched

Both networks aim to support best practice and collaboration across sector
Jonathan Knott
Two new subject specialist networks have been launched for the museum sector, focusing on immersive technology and folklore.

The Museums Immersive Network is run by Cornwall Museums Partnership (CMP). It will support best practice, skills development and collaborations in the field of immersive technology.
The network says that immersive technology such as virtual reality and augmented reality “offers the potential to interpret our collections and share our stories in new, accessible, and interesting ways”.

It aims to “support the establishment of immersive technology more broadly within the sector and boost confidence in working with tech businesses to create new experiences for our communities”.

The network held its first webinar on 24 June and plans to run another next January. About 100 people attended and the discussion was also streamed to delegates at XpoNorth, a conference for Scotland’s creative industries.

“Webinar attendees ranged from volunteers at small community museums, right through to curators and senior management at national museums,” says Amy Shakespeare, a community project manager at CMP.

Speakers included Tanya Krzywinska, professor of digital games at Falmouth University, and the Science Museum’s head of new media Dave Patten.
The Folklore Museums Network (FMN) was also launched last month. The group will work with its members to disseminate knowledge about the material folklore collections held by British and Irish museums.
It says folklore collections “tread a perilous path between fact and fiction; they are often disregarded as irrelevant to a museum’s mission, they may be misidentified or uncatalogued, or simply sidelined due to a lack of time and research resources”.

The network will focus on material folklore objects, which may comprise everything from hair garlands to talismans or manuscripts of local traditions. But it acknowledges that these could not exist without intangible cultural heritage such as folk tales, songs and social customs.

It was founded by Peter Hewitt, the museums officer, collections at Dumfries and Galloway Council. 
Hewitt said: “There is an intense passion for and interest in folklore collections, which represent the complexities of the past and the myriad expressions of regional identity. I hope the FMN will be a place where real and fruitful connections can be made between scholars, the public and museum collections.”
The network will aim to support museum professionals and and connect the sector to audiences and researchers.
A Zoom meeting for the FMN will be hosted by Museums Galleries Scotland on 18 August.
Update 14.07.2020
The article was edited to include a comment from Peter Hewitt.
Image credit: Aurora, an immersive installation at Toxteth Reservoir in Liverpool, was created by the interactive arts studio Invisible Flock. Image by Jon Barraclough

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