Highland Museums Visual Showcase

Wednesday 16 June
11.15am - 12.15pm

A series of interviews looking at Highland and Island Museums that showed great creativity and imagination in pivoting their work during the pandemic.

Participating Museums include:

- Highland Archive Service: Lorna Steele talks us through the Learn with Lorna series and other digital initiatives.
- Gairloch Museum: Dr Karen Buchanan and Eilidh Smith relive winning 'Art Fund_Museum of the Year' and all the challenges and opportunities winning this in a pandemic year offered them.
- West Highland Museum: Vanessa Martin and Dr Alan Miller, introduce their '100 Objects' project and touch on the other ways they connected with audiences throughout last year.
- Groam House Museum: Dr Jill Harden guides us through 'Groam at Home' looking at how they generated income, built a global audience and kept connected to volunteers.
- Stromness Museum: Katy Firth takes us on a virtual tour of Orkney with Roundme galleries and YouTube walking tours.
- Timespan: Jacquie Aitken chats about how focusing on their local community's needs got the organisation through the last year with particular focus on their youth programmes, plus how their planned exhibition for 2020 found a natural home online, setting a high bar for digital exhibitions.

Interviewed by Nicola Henderson, Heritage Specialist XpoNorth.


    Nicola Henderson
    XpoNorth Heritage Sector Specialist

    Nicola Henderson is a freelance arts and heritage professional. She has worked within Scotland's Cultural Sector for almost 20 years - from Glasgow to Aberdeenshire via Skye and Sutherland. Nicola has worked as director of two of Scotland's leading cultural organisations - Timespan in Helmsdale and The Barn in Banchory. Following the birth of her first child, Nicola has worked freelance on a number of creative projects - from devising and delivering Associate Artist Programmes to managing New Music Scotland and working with the Highland heritage sector on building resilience.

    Nicola currently works as the Heritage Specialist for XpoNorth and as the Innovation and Network manager for Museums and Heritage Highland - two roles that overlap in supporting museums to innovate for a sustainable future. She also co-runs the Museums Immersive Network with Cornwall Museums Partnership.


    Jacquie Aitken
    Digital Heritage Curator, Timespan

    Jacquie Aitken is Digital Heritage Curator at Timespan and has a background in archaeology, museums and immersive technology and has a lifelong interest in researching Highland history, landscapes and communities and has worked in the regional and independent sectors for over twenty years. Her roles at Timespan include the digital curation of the museum and community co-production and over the last three years, she has led the development of new digital visitor experiences and virtual reconstruction models of the past, as part of the Connected Culture and Natural Heritage in the Northern Environment (CINE). As a supporter of community archaeology, Jacquie initiated the Brora Salt Pans Excavation Project and now leads the research group.

    Dr Jill Harden
    Historic Environment Adviser

    Jill is a historic environment and museum specialist who volunteers with Groam House Museum in Rosemarkie, working on the collections, exhibitions and digitisation opportunities. She also trains and facilitates the work of other volunteers who work both in the museum and behind the scenes.

    Lorna Steele
    Community Engagement Officer, Highland Archive Service

    Lorna Steele is the Community Engagement Officer for the Highland Archive Service, whose four archive centres contain historic documents, covering a third of Scotland’s landmass and dating from the 1200s to the present day. Her role involves connecting a diverse range of audiences, from school pupils to prison inmates, with these fascinating documents.”

    Dr Karen Buchanan
    Curator, Gairloch Museum

    Karen Buchanan is Curator of Gairloch Museum, where she has worked since 2013. She oversaw the redevelopment of the museum and its move to a new building in 2019. This new heritage attraction has regenerated a key site in Gairloch village and was winner of Art Fund Museum of the Year 2020.

    Vanessa Martin
    Curator, West Highland Museum

    Vanessa Martin is the Curator of the West Highland Museum, an independent museum in the centre of Fort William. Vanessa has an MA in History from the University of Exeter and is currently studying towards an MLitt in Museum and Gallery Studies at the University of St. Andrews. When the pandemic started she had been focusing her studies on how museums should be adjusting to working in the digital age. Over lockdown she has worked with museum colleagues creating digital content to engage with audiences online while the museum was closed. She is currently working in partnership on a digital gallery with the University of St Andrews. This project showcases 100 star objects in the West Highland Museum's collection.

    Katy Firth
    Exhibition Assistant, Stromness Museum

    Katy Firth works at Stromness Museum in Orkney as an Exhibition Assistant in the Collections Development Team. Katy also works as a freelance Heritage Engagement practitioner and volunteers as Branch Leader for Orkney Youth Archaeologists' Club. Her previous roles have included 'Park Ranger' and 'Field Archaeologist'. She enjoys experimenting with new audience engagement tools, and the restrictions of the past year have led Katy into developing three 360-degree virtual tours. In her spare time she enjoys snorkelling and playing underwater hockey.

    Eilidh Smith
    Front of House and Marketing, Gairloch Museum

    Eilidh has been working with the Museum since it's Art Fund Museum of the Year Award announcement in 2020. Born and brought up in Gairloch, Eilidh’s career has led her from journalism to education, through the environmental sector to the arts. Her previous roles include Communications Manager for RSPB Scotland, Marketing and Publicity Officer for Sandstone Press and Programme Manager for Moniack Mhor Creative Writing Centre.

    Dr Alan Miller
    Lecturer, St Andrews University / Director Smart History

    Amongst other things Alan lectures in Digital promotion and preservation of heritage at St Andrews University and is a Director of Smart History Ltd.

    He is interested in building the capacity of communities and museums to create live, mobile and immersive heritage experience. Alan works with Highlands and Islands Enterprise in developing Museums Without Walls and Museum from Home experiences.

    The Open Virtual World Group at St Andrews is a multidisciplinary group bringing together multiple skills to create digital representations of Heritage. Drop by the Facebook or Web Page to see what’s going on. Openvirtualworlds.org


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