On February 18th The Black Country Living Museum held a Wikipedia Backstage Pass event. The event was supported by the Arts Council Museum Development Fund, Wikipedia expert Andy Mabbett http://pigsonthewing.org.uk/ and Emma Buckler (Conurbation Museums Officer).
Other regional museums and societies also brought along their own collections and information for the Wikipedia editors to explore. These were, The Black Country Society, Pen Room, Assay Office and Smethwick Heritage Centre. A big thank you to all those organisations, and staff from the Black Country Living Museum, who made the day such a wonderful success.
Wikipedia editors were given a “backstage pass” to visit the collection stores at the museum: an area that is not normally open to the public. Everyone enjoyed the experience of seeing the treasure trove of objects the museum holds.
After some of the Black Country Living Museum’s famous fish and chips, the Wikipedia editors then settled down to write articles. Some editors also explored the museum’s archive. Again, this provided a wealth of information for Wikipedia articles.
The day did result in new Wikipedia articles focusing on the museum and it’s collections. The museum has made useful contacts, and some Wikipedia editors have asked to come back to explore the collections further.
Some learning points which may be useful for other museums which are planning to run a Wikipedia event:
- The stores tours were really popular, although the range of objects available was a bit overwhelming. It was suggested that Curators/museum staff draw up a list of objects they want Wikipedia editors to write about.
- A group discussion at the end of day, to exchange ideas and feedback.
- More local exhibitors, or table of leaflets for local heritage organisations.
- An agenda for the day, sent out in advance.
- Not enough time!
“An excellent day with a good group that went some way to demonstrate what the Black Country Living Museum is all about, from a slightly different perspective than normal”.