Archive for June 12, 2009

Proper underground my lovers!

Posted in meet the geevor staff on June 12, 2009 by geevor

Down victory shaft

Well after being away for a wee while off camping I (Claire S) returned to Geevor just in time to have a VERY EXCITING MORNING. No really it was, I got the chance to go down Victory Shaft the main shaft that was used at Geevor before it shut. I should point out that this was a very rare oportuntiy for some of us here to go down the mine. This included climbing down 18 ladders to the third level up to where the shaft is flooded to.  A small exert of what was going through my head at the time “right its going to be fine, I only have a small fear of heights/small spaces, don’t look up don’t look down and adopt a voice that makes me sound alot more nonchalant than I feel….what am I doing oh noooooo…..its okay not a problem don’t look up etc” .  As it turned out it was really cool going deeper underground, the light gradually disappearing and the old rusting metal pipes, dripping rock faces and wobbly ladders becoming more familiar scenery.  We were led on a tour going deeper along the main adit for the shaft. Off this there were loads of other mine workings of different ages dating from the 18th century. With low ceilings and water over the top of my wellie boots we made our down through mine workings that spanned over 300 years. One of the coolest parts for me was seeing in the rock where the miners had hand drilled into the rock to set the shot, showing which way they had been working from and the load they were following. This meant that as you travelled through the underground you could work out from the clues they had left behind what the miners had been thinking and how they planned their next moves.  Being no geologist I was only able to admire the colours of the minerals seeping from the rock face which were really astounding colours and made some very interesting formations. We finished the tour at the bottom of the cliff which meant that luckily we didn’t have to test our fitness getting back up the 18 ladders! ! It was an amazing 2 hours underground, could always do more if I were to join St.Just Mines Group although it was mentioned that they often abseil into shafts hmmm….. maybe one step too far for this slightly claustrophobic girl with vertigo!!

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‘It’s not about technology it’s about people’

Posted in meet the geevor staff on June 12, 2009 by geevor

claire rPart 1:

(the next part will be more about the content of the conference)

This week, whilst some lucky people back at Geevor got to go down Victory Shaft (I’m miffed that I missed it!),  I was up in London for the Museums Association World Wider Wonder: Museums on the Web event.

Now this event was really interesting.

It was the usual suspects and case studies being identified as good practice:

That’s not what was interesting.  What was interesting was the audience and their reaction to these case studies.  The Museum Association has the ability to attract a diverse audience of museum professionals to its events, so rather then the speakers preaching to the converted, the web developers and the geeks, they were talking to curators, interpretation teams, marketing people, learning people and a mini selection of web people. I have to applaud the MA for this, it was really great to see so many different people listening to how useful the web can be to enhance what they already do onsite.

I got talking to some of the small museum members over lunch; the Cheltenham art gallery, the quilt museum in York and the Bournemouth Art Institute; the resounding point was “yes the case studies are great but how can we even attempt to emulate them when we don’t have the time, money or resources?”  this links to something I blogged about during MW2009- Small Institutions Big Dreams. The fact that small museums just don’t have enough resources to commit to engaging museum webery.

And low and behold Phill Poole pulled it out of the bag with his presentation on Enhancing website on a shoestring budget!  You can access his slides here

Another quite interesting thing came from the Q&A after one of the presentations…  a member of the audience believed their museum to be an authoritative keeper of knowledge and several people firmly believed that User Generated Content (especially wiki’s) goes against this authoritarian ‘we know the facts, and you don’t’ mentality.  Sorry that’s coming across as quite negative.  I don’t mean to, but it infuriates me when people believe that just because they work in a museum, they therefore are a keeper of knowledge.  Increasing access and audience engagement is really important to me.  Museums are well on their way to shaking off the highly negative stereotypical view that they are quiet, revential and un-welcoming, perceived as an old building with an imposing appearance, full of fuddy duddy curators who waffle on about boring stuff.  Of course everyone is entitled to their opinion, I know that, but museums believing that User generated content isn’t acceptable to their core message, goes against that fact: everyone is entitled to an opinion! There are multiple perspectives to every story especially when it comes to artefacts.  Just the facts is the knowledge so to speak but the interpretation is open to just that interpretation.