Spotlight on the residency – York Museums Trust WIR 2013-14

A painting of Monk Bar in York, painted in shades of yellow, gold and brown, it looks like a classical city gate.
A 19th century painting of Monk Bar, York – just one of the diverse range of images donated during the residency

This post was written by Pat Hadley and Daria Cybulska and was written with excerpts from the final case study report 

With three large, historically-important museums in their care York Museums Trust (YMT) have overwhelmingly rich and diverse collections – an incredibly exciting range of opportunities to work with Wikipedia.

From October 2013 to April 2014 York Museums Trust (YMT) hosted Pat Hadley as a Wikipedian­ in­ Residence in partnership with Wikimedia UK. The project offered Wikimedia UK a chance to work with a regionally important institution with internationally significant collections. Further weight was lent by YMT’s potential to affect several institutions in the area. Recently Pat has written up a case study for this cooperation, which gives a chance to reflect on what has been done in the six months.

Looking back on the project from the perspective of Wikimedia UK, there were several outstanding achievements:

Content improvement. Several of the Trust’s collections were targeted after consultation with the curators. Over 400 high ­quality images were delivered to Commons, many have contributed to the quality of Wikimedia projects. Some of the collections were previously hardly used by the museum, so the uploads led to them being known more widely. The programme originally aimed at a more extensive upload programme, however, Pat had to adapt to technical delays and obstacles.

An example of a project worked on is the W.A. Ismay Studio Ceramic collection. William Alfred Ismay spent his life building an enormous collection of Studio pottery. It is now held by YMT and was subject to a Google Cultural Institute project in November 2013. Brand new high quality photographs were taken for this and Pat was able to upload these images to Commons. These have now been used on the biographical articles for 17 of the potters. The Ismay article was also created from scratch by a Wikipedia editor.

External partnerships. Committed to the idea of engaging with many cultural organisations in the region, YMT was exploring the possibility of scoping the project out and reaching more than just the institutions in the Trust. This resulted in an idea of a Yorkshire wide Wikimedia ambassador linked to the Museum Development Yorkshire, a project YMT have shaped and planned to run in second half of 2014 and beyond.

Training and advocacy. All key curators at YMT were trained to edit Wikipedia. Pat also delivered a range of external talks reaching c. 80 people, including one to the Museum Development Yorkshire.

Outreach and events. Pat delivered 3 training sessions for staff and volunteers, and a high profile public editathon themed around the lives and works of Yorkshire’s 19th Century luminaries.

It was the idea of external partnerships that resonated especially strongly with Wikimedia UK and YMT during the cooperation, and the institutions worked on setting up a ‘phase 2’ project that would take these ideas forward.

Spreading the net: What’s next for GLAMwiki in Yorkshire?

One of the most positive elements of working at YMT was the opportunity to work in a network of museums with such diverse collections and breadth of knowledge among curators, staff and volunteers. This acted as a key inspiration in the design of a follow up project, run from July 2014 for a year. The Yorkshire Network Project with Pat Hadley as Regional Wikimedia Ambassador, is a unique chance to work with the region’s Museum Development Officers (MDOs) and offer Wikimedia partnerships and collaboration to the regions 150 registered museums.

Want to learn more?

Explore the full case study report written by Pat. It includes interviews with York Museums Trust staff, and further insights

Pat also talks about his project in the GLAM-Wiki Revolution video here.

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