Museums and Social Media in Portugal: rapport of a conference

On the 11th and 12th of November 2010 the Museu de Portimão, in southern Portugal, hosted a Conference of Users of Technological Applications for the Cultural Heritage. The Conference included a workshop on Museums & Social Media at which the Museu Picasso was invited to make a presentation.

Museums 2.0 Conference | The exterior of the Portimão Museum, a former canning factory

In attendance were fifty professionals from Portuguese museums and heritage centres. At the theoretical session we presented an overview of museums on the social media and then explained the journey made by the Museu Picasso from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0, where we have been for a year and a half now.

The workshop
It was very interesting to see how the workshop stimulated participants who had little or no experience of social networks to think in groups about a strategy for 2.0 communication, on the basis of reproductions of objects.

There was a lot of active discussion and collaborative work at each table. A number of thematic threads emerged and the groups identified the 2.0 platforms they felt would be most appropriate for disseminating these. The tangible outcome was in the form of posters like the one you see in the photo. The far more valuable intangible result was having immersed people, in such a short time, in the potentials of social networks.

Museums & Social Media Workshop, led by Maria van Zeller

I found it very rewarding when, at the end, one participant said to me, ‘I came here knowing almost nothing about 2.0 and now I’ve got the hang of it and want to set it up in my centre.’

Projects presented
A number of initiatives for the application of new technologies to the management and dissemination of collections were presented. They were all interesting, but I’ll highlight a few:

· The Museu Nacional Ferroviário has recently made available to the public Portugal’s first online multimedia museum guide. It features family tours as well as videos and virtual reconstructions of the interiors of vintage trains.

· The University of Coimbra presented the new museological project for the integration of its seven science museums — belonging to three different faculties, each with its own faculty head, nine collections and 1.2 million pieces — in a single museum. The Museu da Ciência will have a single collection with one director, all in a new building. As Pedro Casaleiro explained, it will also have a Digital Museum, allowing online access to over 30,000 pieces.

· The Museu Regional de Arqueologia D. Diogo de Sousa presented a very well conceived educational game, the result of a year of work by a multidisciplinary team. As well as being fun, it transmits knowledge through a great combination of visual flair, narrative and technology. The game also includes 2.0 options. Every bit as interesting as the game itself was learning about the in-depth study carried out by João Angelico of Sistemas do Futuro into national and international museums’ use of online educational games. The study will be available in the near future on the University of Oporto website.

· In concluding this selection, let me briefly comment on, a new online collections catalogue application presented by Alexandre Matos. This is a data communication protocol, compatible with other platforms such as Europeana. The project is the result of the Master’s thesis by Maria van Zeller and is being developed initially as a pilot project by the Museu da Faculdade de Engenharia do Porto before being extended. As a modular application it is highly flexible, allowing it to be customized and adapted to the needs of the individual museum, both in the fields it shows and in its design. The most innovative thing, for me, this being the first time I’ve seen it integrated into the online collection, is the collaborative or 2.0 module, which makes it possible to include social tagging in the catalogue space, accepting the keywords contributed by the users.

I really must say, at the risk of making this rather a long article, what a privilege it was to visit the Museu de Portimão guided by its director. The museum, which is devoted to the history of the first local industry, fishing and fish canning, is housed in the original Portimão canning factory. The building, which has been completely restored and remodelled, with an investment of 2M€, reopened in 2008. In museopraphical terms it is a remarkable achievement, with a fascinating immersive itinerary that takes visitors through the different stages of the canning process. In 2010 it won the Council of Europe’s Museum of the Year Prize.

Museography of the Museu de Portimão | The Education Service facilities and an interactive table

Thanks to José Gameiro, Director of the Museu de Portimão for a memorable visit and for hosting the Conference.

Thanks, too, to Fernando Cabral and all of the Sistemas do Futuro team for inviting the Museu Picasso to talk about museums 2.0 and for the opportunity to learn about the exciting projects being carried out by Portuguese museums.

Conxa Rodà
Project manager

1 Comment
  • Carmen Doral
    February 11, 2011

    Accesibilidad Web en entornos culturales. Navarro, I. y Fonseca, D. 8ª Conferencia Iberoamericana en Sistemas, Cibernética e Informática, CISCI 2009, Orlando, USA, 2009, Vol. 3, pp. 32-37, ISBN-10:1-934272-66-3.

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