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Hampshire’s brightest brains shine a light on solutions to museum challenges

Hampshire’s brightest brains shine a light on solutions to museum challenges

60 of the top minds from across the county came together on 16 June to compete for a £2k prize in the first ever ‘Museums Hack Day’. The event invited creatives, digital technologists and museum leaders to meet, collaborate and, over one day, develop cutting edge solutions to big challenges.

The Museums Hack Day was developed by Lucy Marder from the South East Museums Development Programme, Dr Alex Reynolds from Southampton Solent University and Chris Cooper from KnowNow Information. It was supported by Creative Networks south and Venturefest South.

Representatives from over 20 digital businesses and all four of Hampshire’s universities took up the task: to come up with innovative, financially sustainable solutions to intriguing real-world challenges brought along by six selected museums:

  • King John’s House Museum and Heritage Centre: how to visualise the way this historic building would have looked in the past.
  • The Lightbox Museum and Gallery: how to reach younger audiences.
  • Maidenhead Heritage Centre: how to tell dynamic transport stories without the use of moving objects.
  • Mary Rose Museum: how to create virtual access to collections hidden in reserve stores.
  • Pendon Museum: how to make better use of the existing website to develop and monetise relationships with ‘virtual’ visitors.
  • Southampton Arts and Heritage: how to ensure that resource intensive temporary exhibitions have a continued legacy.

Six groups worked to take on the challenges set out by the museums in a day of intensive activity, in a bid to win £2,000 and business advice support provided free by Southampton Solent University to develop a minimum viable product (MVP). This MVP will then be used to attract more funding and support for further development.

Each group pitched its work to a panel of judges which was on the lookout for the project which would best:

  • Showcase local digital and creative talent
  • Raise the profile of the South’s cultural offer
  • Address the key challenge expressed by museums
  • Advance best practice in the museums sector
  • Enable collaboration, sharing and economies of scale
  • Draw sustainable financial investment into the cultural sector

After long deliberation, the panel of judges announce the winning team representing The Lightbox Museum and Gallery was announced the winner of the event, for their project, #ThinkOutsideTheLightbox.

Ed Gould, creative director at Carswell Gould, helped support the teams and pick a winner, and said: “Judging the ideas proved that when creative people from different sectors collaborate great things can happen. Well done to everyone involved and I can’t wait to see the Lightbox team’s ideas come to fruition”

IBM design intern Chloe Poulter, Professor Graeme Earl of University of Southampton, commercial artists Sam Allen and Dave Slater, managing director of touchscreen specialists InfoAktiv worked as a highly effective team alongside the museum’s Lauren Jones, Beth Hopper and Amy Plewis to propose the concept of using an interactive multimedia booth in a high-footfall location in the town centre to reach out to the target audience and engage non-visitors.

The project would see members of the public use their smart phones to take images that then become part of the exhibition in the gallery in a bid to involve the community and drive footfall.

“It was a brilliant event,” said Emma May of Emmerse Studios. “I’m really pleased to have been part of it, and have thoroughly enjoyed working with other techies to solve real-world problems.”

The winners will now be able to develop their idea further with access to a support package from Southampton Solent University and a seed funding pot.

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