Left: Tessa Jowell - 'the government is keen to exploit the potential offered by new technologies'
Plans for the establishment of a national network of telecommunications museums drawing on the resources of BT were welcomed by Arts Secretary Tessa Jowell at a reception at the BT Tower on April 11.
The Culture Secretary was introducing Connected Earth - an initiative which redistributes the extensive historic collection of BT, currently not on view, into museums all over Britain.
The project is supported and enhanced by an ambitious plan for a museum on the web, linking the regional centres created in the move.
"It is the combination of the new 'real' collections and the online presence which makes Connected Earth such an exciting proposition," said Tessa Jowell.
Left: Earth Centre, Goonhilly, now re-opened as part of Connected Earth.
The first instalment of Connected Earth is already up and running - Earth Centre at Goonhilly, reported on 24 Hour Museum on April 3. Next steps should see the new Connected Earth website attracting virtual visitors at the beginning of June.
"I welcome the launch of Connected Earth's museum on the internet as it enables the public to gain access to the magnificent collections of artefacts - from their homes, schools or by the end of 2002 from any public library," added the Culture Secretary.
Right: Tessa Jowell and Sir Christopher Bland, BT Chairman.
BT Chairman Sir Christopher Bland told more about the plan: "Connected Earth involves the distribution of BT's collection of over 5000 artefacts to a network of some of the country's finest museum. It means improved access to information about telecommunications."
Some members of the press expressed doubts about the wisdom of breaking up the BT collection - Sir Christopher rebutted this strongly, as did Richard Lloyd, BT's project director on Connected Earth.
Both men encouraged the view that this is a chance for collaboration, partnerships and progress with all kinds of museums, all over Britain.
According to Sir Christopher, improved access is what the project is about: "It means developing the museums we already have; increasing co-operation between them; passing the custody of corporate collections to professional curators, so more people can access them; using new technology to improve the way we enjoy museums and their exhibits."
Connected Earth venues planned so far:
The Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester
Avoncroft Museum of Historic Buildings
Museum Of London
Amberley Working Museum
Museum of Submarine Telegraphy
Goonhilly Earth Station