Museum Computer Boffins Get Together For Museum Web Mash Up

By 24 Hour Museum Staff | 19 June 2007
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shows a view of people discussing things round a table with laptops showing

Here's one we did earlier - participants in the Semantic Web Think Tank meeting at London's V&A museum. © Jon Pratty/24 Hour Museum

Top web managers and computer boffins from UK museums will be pooling their knowledge and resources at the University of Leicester on Thursday June 21 2007 for an investigation into the new web and how it can benefit museums and galleries.

Mashed Museum – the Spring School in New Media 2007 - has been designed as a pre-conference day for the 'Web Adept' UK Museums on the Web conference also taking place in Leicester, on June 22.

The day takes its name from the term 'Mash-Up', a buzz word in web circles for the use of functions from different programmes and applications, such as Google Maps, brought together on one website. A museum may, for example, harness the technology of Google Maps and 'mash it up' with its own database information to publish something ostensibly new on its own website.

“Mashed Museum will be a day of free-form thinking and action, with only enough structure to make sure we actually get something out of the (considerable) collective brainpower that will be in the room,” explained Dr Ross Parry, Lecturer from the Department of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester.

Confirmed participants are coming from a variety of institutions and companies, including the National Media Museum, National Maritime Museum, 24 Hour Museum, Museum of London, Science Museum, MDA, Eduserv, Blitz Games and Box UK.

photo of people sitting in a room with laptops

Mike Ellis of the Science Museum, one of the organisers of the Leicester Museum Mashup, takes the stage in Brighton for another web meeting. © Jon Pratty/24 Hour Museum

For the web literate, the event will essentially be a 'web jam' for those working in or with museums. It promises to be quite experimental and something very new for the Spring School and the UKMW series of conferences.

“The day aims to provide an ideas-rich and resource-rich environment free from some of the political or monetary constraints that tend to shape our work day-to-day,” added Dr Parry, who explained the focus of the day is not IPR (International Property Rights), copyright, funding or museum politics.

“Instead, our energies will be channelled into embracing the ‘new web’: envisaging, demonstrating and building some lightweight distributed applications.”

Participants will be exploring how such applications can be built quickly, easily and often for free and revealing the power of opening up content and data via API's (Application Programming Interface - a means of allowing access to database data) or web services.

shows a man drawing a diagram on a flip chart

It's not all about doing it digitally: Nick Poole, Director of MDA, shows us how to plan and scope sites at another web meeting © Jon Pratty/24 Hour Museum

The day will also be an opportunity to share ideas and concepts, discover new tools, sources of data and content and to have fun. You can read more about the day here

Places are limited but at the time of writing there were still a couple left on the course. The day costs £40, which will cover coffee, lunch in the University Carvery, drinks during the demos and crits at the end of the day, and an evening meal.

If you are working in a small independent museum or local authority museum, or if you are a student, and the fee might be a barrier to your participation - get in contact with the MCG, as there is some financial support they can offer.

If you're creative, technical(-ish) and think you will bring something to the party, then drop Mike Ellis a line at Please note that places are available on a strictly first come first served basis.

Results from the Mashup Day are being reported at the main, 24 Hour Museum sponsored conference on friday. For anyone who hasn't yet booked for the conference on June 22 places are filling fast, but there is still time! You can book online at

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