Case studies for the toolkit
Using collections to inspire products for museum shops
A commercial collaboration between the Irish Linen Centre and Thomas Ferguson Irish linen producers
The Irish Linen Centre has been exploring ways of increasing the use and raising the profile of its collection. In particular the museum has been looking into the potential of the collection to inspire items to sell in the shop.
The museum has a working Jacquard hand loom in its collection, but due to the labour-intensive nature of this type of production it is only able to make sample pieces of linen for visitors to look at. This has meant that until now visitors have not been able to take away examples of Irish linen products based on designs held in the museum’s collection. Now, the museum is working with Thomas Ferguson, the last remaining Irish linen damask weaver in Ireland, to produce a range of linen based on the collection’s ‘Flax Flower’ design. Through this partnership the museum is able to sell unique items in the shop that highlight their collection. The items are selling well.
The museum has a number of other historical patterns for Damask linen products in its collection, and it is currently considering using some of these to broaden out the range of Irish linen it retails. It is also looking into the possibility of licensing other shops to sell products inspired by the collection.
Click here to find out more about Thomas Ferguson: http://www.fergusonsirishlinen.com/pages/index.asp?title1=About-us
Engaging younger audiences in museum collections through different media
Collaboration between Derry City Council Heritage and Museum Service and Uproar Comics
The Tower Museum in Derry wanted to find new and creative ways of appealing to children and young adults and to help them engage with the collection. One of the ways they chose to do this was use was through the use of comics and graphic art.
Uproar Comics worked with the museum service’s education department to produce a historically accurate comic based on the rebellion of Sir Cathair O’Doherty in 1608. The narrative in the comic was linked to objects on display in the museum and was designed to help people to engage with them.
It took around six weeks to produce the comic which was distributed by the museum. Although the comic was aimed at a younger audience, it was used by visitors of all ages.
The museum was able to use this project to explore new approaches to interpreting its collection and engaging a broader audience. For Uproar Comics, one of the biggest benefits was having the chance to work with subject specialists to produce their most historically accurate comic to date.
Since this project, Uproar Comics has had discussions with other museums and historical sites to explore the possibility of using this approach to interpret other collections and associated stories.
Click here to see the comic: http://www.uproarcomics.co.uk/portfolio/the-rebellion-of-sir-cathair-odoherty/
Collaborations between craft makers and museums
Lesley Frew in residence at the Ulster Museum
In 2009, Craft Northern Ireland’s Making it programme funded designer maker Lesley Frew to take up a two-year placement at Ulster Museum. Lesley’s work focuses on ethical and sustainable making and she transforms material destined for land fill into new pieces. For example, she creates contemporary jewellery using discarded plastic bags.
With support from Craft NI, the Ulster Museum provided space and equipment for Lesley. In return, she delivered workshops and talks for the museum and produced items to be sold in the shop.
The aim of Making it is to provide designer makers, often new makers, with support and experience as they begin to develop sustainable craft businesses. Every two years, it places studio-based craft businesses in host organisations across Northern Ireland. So far Ulster Museum is the only museum to take part, but Craft NI is keen to work with more museums (the next call for hosts will be in 2015).
Click here to find out more about ‘Making it’: http://craftni.org/programmes/making-it-programme/
Click here to find out more about Lesley Frew: http://craftni.org/directory/maker/lesley-frew
Maximising the publicity from location filming
Using location filming to market holiday cottages on the Crom Estate in County Fermanagh
The BBC filmed two series of its adaptation of PG Wodehouse’s Blandings at the National Trust’s Crom Castle, part of the Crom Estate, County Fermanagh. During filming, members of the cast and crew stayed in the holiday cottages on the estate.
The National Trust used the positive experiences and feedback from cast members to market their holiday cottages. The trust created a new web page that combines comments from the cast with images and links to more information about hiring the cottages.
With cast members descriptions ranging from: ‘It is the most extraordinary estate and to wake up every day surrounded by wild deer roaming around, beautiful castle ruins and an amazing loch is incredible,’ to ‘I love the colours of the trees and the views of the lake, and the stars at night are just incredible,’ who says there is no such thing as free publicity!
Using cutting edge digital technology to interpret historical landscapes and building
An App developed by the University of Ulster to unlock the history of Mussenden Temple and Downhill Demense
With European funding, a team from Interactive Media Arts in the School of the Media, Film and Journalism developed an app to help interpret Mussenden Temple and Downhill Demense. The app uses augmented reality to provide an interactive experience for visitors to the two venues. The app requires the visitor to engage physically with the landscapes and building and provides a range of ways for visitors to interact with the two sites including films and games.
To find out more about the app: www.historyspace.eu/