University Museums from Home

As universities across the globe switch to remote learning and university museums and collections’ professionals are #workingfromhome as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, we want to hear from you.

1) The Challenges of Remote Work

How is your university museum, university botanic garden or university collection coping with remote work? Which impact did it have on your daily practices? How are you addressing museum issues that require some degree of physical staff (e.g. conservation, security, others)? We would love to hear from you.

2) The Challenges of Keeping the Engagement

The International Museum Day 2020 is still going ahead — digitally. Many museums are taking digital to a whole new level and reinventing themselves online. Innovative activities, from webinars, online seminars and lectures to digital exhibitions, hanging out with curators on zoom, collections and archives digital access, social networks games and quizzes, and so many others, can now be seen online.

How are you keeping your audiences engaged? Which activities did you postpone, transfer online, or cancel altogether? Who is being left behind due to lack of access or resources?

3) The Challenges of Solidarity

University museums are also directly contributing to the minimize the suffering in affected countries and communities, from promoting solidarity campaigns and mobilizing medical equipment to university hospitals and health centers to donating their stock of masks and alcohol, joining experts’ task forces and unpacking relevant scientific information to the public.

What solidarity initiatives is your university museum, botanic garden or collection directly or indirectly supporting?

Please reply in the comments below and provide information and links. We will amplify most of the initiatives in UMAC social networks.

#UniversityMuseumsFromHome

 

18 Replies to “University Museums from Home”

  1. I am collection manager of Museum of Zoology, National Taiwan University, Taiwan. My Country’s all schools still keep open and work very well. I still work at museum office everyday. Even I can go to work still have big affection for my museum.
    We have strong rules for numbers of activities (less than 60) and social distance control. All the people go into any university building need to have mask, sign healthy questionnaire sheet, measure temperature, and use 75% alcohol to wash hand. My university now only open to our university staffs and students that they need to reserve online or email. Because museum of zoology exhibition room does not have any window. So my museum have big limited to touch public now.
    First, we can only have 10 visitors with masks in my exhibition room now, because that room is so small and we need to keep social distance. These visitors only can be university students and staffs, because the university close for public. So how to reach outside public, become my museum’s issue.
    Online visual exhibit is open: https://www.facebook.com/museumzoology/videos/1882144525396235/
    and Chinese and English online tours are planning now.
    We rent out my museum specimens to other museums to do exhibit. So my museum’s specimens can still have chance to reach public. https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=231283997922215
    Second, all the education activities for public have been cancel this semester. we only can offer lectures to university students. 10 people have limited. So make video for big lectures, and re-plan the lectures for small groups. I spent a lot of time for that. We are planning some summer online courses for public now.
    Now it is good time for me to work in my collections. So I have about five students still come to collection rooms to help to maintain and make specimens. We have new specimens come into my museum last two years that I do not have time to catalog. Finally, I can find time to do it.
    Good luck everyone

  2. Hello from the Brunei Gallery, SOAS University of London. We closed our doors to the public on the 16th March and SOAS went into lockdown a few days later, since when we’ve all been working remotely staying connected through the myriad of platforms available for regular meetings and getting used to a new way of working. The campus will remain closed until at least 20th June when our position will be reviewed.

    Collections care and management is an issue as with the campus closed there is no access for curatorial staff to the collections on site or in external store. Work was already underway to put parts of the Collections online later this year which is being reviewed and assessed as to how some of this could be brought forward. As is the future use of our collections, along with many others a lot of work is currently being done to develop remote delivery with blended learning and future online teaching across the university, exploring ways those courses that worked more closely with our objects can build in new ways and thinking for doing this.

    The exhibitions that were due to be installed to open just after Easter had to rapidly convert to have more material available to publish on line and via social media with evolving content for our website, E-newsletters and social media including FaceBook https://www.facebook.com/BruneiGallery.SOAS/ and Twitter https://twitter.com/BruneiGallery that can be published out in a series of posts over the duration of what would have been the exhibition.

    We have our first virtual private view for an exhibition scheduled for one of the exhibitions with the Guest Curators holding a streamed Q&A session as a new type of event for us. From which lessons will be learnt and we are now looking at our future programme of exhibitions and events (internally and externally organised) trying to assess what the long term impact will be on many of them to prepare content and financially to be able to deliver. Looking ahead at forthcoming exhibitions has us now asking of them how can each one build in content to ensure engagement without access ?

  3. The Hrdlička Museum of Man (HMČ) is located in the building of the Faculty of Science, Charles University, and it is temporarily closed for students and the public. The activities of the Museum have moved into a virtual environment. We try to keep in touch with our visitors and fans (current and future) through FB, and every week, in addition to the usual news from the world of science, we publish the new series named “Stories from HMČ”. We started with an introductory fun quiz: How do you know our museum? Every next week we publish an episode “Stories of HMČ”, which are related to the history of the museum, and personalities associated with it, or the exposition and interesting exhibits.

  4. The Electronic Science and Technology Museum staff in China have been working from home about 2 months because of the coronavirus pandemic. The first one and half month, we can access to school only apply for one week before and after the temperature test, now the number of infections reduced, most provinces new infections stay zero for weeks, government encourage people go back work, we are all allowed to access. Actually, we have seldom difficulties on carrying out regular and negotiation work when from home.

    It affects museum exhibitions and visitors even students a lot:
    1. We do have some exhibitions schedule delayed, such as an entry machinery exhibition which cooperate with Greece, another exhibition work together with Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University. These 2 exhibitions were planned to open on March and June separately, but now we will reconsider the open time depend on global situation.
    2. As to visitors and students, our museum usually have visitors peak period during April and teachers in museum will give lesson to school students about . To attract visitors online, we planned virtual exhibitions of permanent exhibition about science and technology, and temporary exhibition about combine science with art. We also promoted massive open online courses (MOOC) for students and others interested in knowledge of electronic science and technology.

    In contrast to the growing international outbreak, China’s situation now under control, but we can’t forget the whole world museums people are a big family, the whole world people are suffering, we’d like to provide as much help as we can. So our museum and university are trying our best to donate masks to other overseas university, help find ventilator suppliers to negotiate the price and paper work.

    We hope the whole world will get better and everyone stay safe.
    Our museum MOOC can be access through
    https://www.icourse163.org/course/UESTC-1449921193

  5. We have been working from our homes since March 16, 2020, and a mandatory lockdown has been enforced by local and national authorities since March 20, 2020 and is still in place. At the Universidad del Rosario in Bogota, Colombia we have had access to tools for working remotely such as OneDrive and Zoom online classrooms for lectures and team meetings/conferences. We also use Whatsapp Groups for different museum management topics (one with educators and students, one for communications, one with conservation staff). Although we can currently access most of our documentation online, we have difficulties using our collections management software, (Colecciones Colombianas) for which we currently have no possible remote-access and at the moment we cannot carry out any of the necessary technical procedures or installations for enabling remote access for this particular software (since university facilities are completely closed).

    Since the outbreak social media has had a major role—the museum has been promoting its online tools and resources mainly through our social media accounts, and increasing synergy in the communication efforts between the university museum and the historical archive, both part of the Cultural and Historical Heritage Unit of the University.

    PHASE 1: Re-use and re-editing of contents previously available online: As a first instance, we are basically trying to promote the use of online resources that have been previously created and disseminated although they are currently dispersed through different platforms and outlets; most of them can be located by searching in different parts of the museum webpage but some are located elsewhere. For example, this includes a collection of podcasts that relate to heritage topics and artworks of the museum, which are available via the university radio station website. There are also blog articles that have been shared in the past and we have been making a selection of these to disseminate via social media. Some videos that have been produced in collaboration with other institutions are available in external websites, and we have been working on collecting all of these resources in one place. An important aspect to highlight in times of coronavirus where access to the university campus is not possible, is the Virtual Tour, which has been available for the past couple of years, using the open-access platform Roundme and is link to this is provided in our museum website.

    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MuseoUrosario/
    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/museo_ur/
    Twitter: https://twitter.com/museo_ur?lang=en

    PHASE 2: Online tours using Zoom and Roundme: We are launching online educational activities using Zoom and Roundme. Since our activity of on-site tours has been affected and this has such a vital role among new-coming students and other visitors, we think it is important to re-think this activity within the limits and possibilities of online tools. The first activity will take place in the second week of April and will be announced via our social media accounts. We think that this approach can promote a discussion between us and our public, for which we will count with three members of the museum (also as a back-up in case internet fails for any one of the team member). We will have the opportunity to discuss in a 30-minute talk and virtual tour through the museum using Zoom and its screen-sharing option for transmitting a live excursion using our virtual tour online. We think it can take the shape more of a conversation, and less like a lecture, with questions and answers, and possibility to dialogue.

    Visit the portrait Gallery at the “Aula Máxima” https://roundme.com/tour/24534/view/117015/
    Look out from the Bordadita Chapel https://roundme.com/tour/24534/view/59446
    Take a tour of the Gallery Independece Heroes https://roundme.com/tour/24535/view/59464
    Discover the alterpice of the Chapel La Bordadita https://roundme.com/tour/24535/view/117174
    Walk through the halls of the Cloister https://roundme.com/tour/24534/view/117004

    Creation of new contents: Fortunately, our team has access to most of the documentation of the collection, including most photographs of artworks which has been crucial to work on interpretation and communication strategies from home. With the assistance of young social media managers, in this case a student and museum interpreter, supported by the assistance of additional students, we have created new strategies such as the design of Instagram “filters” using artworks of the collection and GIFs with particular themes. Once they are designed, they have to be approved and then can start being used in different social media platforms. We also are publishing games and challenges via social media, especially intended for the community university. The contributions from undergraduate students participating in the museum educational group has been vital to try to find innovative ways of promoting the collection through social media strategies that reach a young public.

    PHASE 3: Webpage renovation and use of new tools to show online exhibits. This whole scenario has made us prioritize a project that actually was already part of our previous work plan but has gained even more importance particularly at this moment. Due to urgency of promoting the online resources of the museum we noted the need for renovating our webpage in search for more visually attractive elements and in particular in aims of consolidating in one section all the online resources which are now quite dispersed and not as easily available as we wished. Therefore, although this project is still in the initial design phase, it has gained a top-priority in our agenda and we hope to have results of a first phase implementation of this plan within the next few weeks, followed by subsequent phases to be finished and updated afterwards. Furthermore, sharing our collections online through platforms such as Google Arts and Culture as become another one of our priorities, something we have been working intensely at in order to launch in the next month of May. Our main difficulties achieving these results is that we do not have the possibilities to re-design webpages at the speed we would require to immediately respond to the situation as would be desirable, since this involves teamwork with other areas of the university (the museum does not count with a website builder of its own) and a process that requires at weeks, not days.

    Continuing conservation activities
    Furthermore, conservation activities have faced major challenges in the COVID-19 scenario. Without the possibility of accessing the restoration workshop, our contracted staff have been forced to work remotely on research and documentation activities, leaving aside the actual on-site conservation work for now. Fortunately, the museum intends to not affect or cancel these contracts, as part of the university policy we intend to approach the difficult situation that our country (and the world) faces with the resilience and solidarity that is needed by as much actors in society as possible. The work will thus focus on research and documentation activities that are achievable from home, as well as a new shift towards creating new interpretation and education videos to be carried out by the conservation staff.

    Stay safe!

    Ingrid Frederick
    Museo de la Universidad del Rosario, Bogotá, Colombia.

  6. Hello there, I’m Eilidh Lawrence from the Museums of the University of St Andrews. The Museums team at the University of St Andrews are working to reimagine the University Museums through curiosity and conversation, and to be a cultural and social hub. So, whilst we can’t open our buildings, we want to bring people together online, to stay connected to St Andrews, and to take inspiration from the ground-breaking research at our world-leading University.

    We are running three online sessions each week, which you can tune into wherever you are in the world.

    On Mondays at 10am, we’re hosting Wardlaw Workshops on a Monday – supplying children with a mission for the week ahead and advice from an expert at the University of St Andrews to help you complete it. These projects will range from creating secret messages like the ancient Incas to building your own flying machines. Examples of what people have made at home the previous week will be shown in the next week’s video.

    On Wednesdays at 1pm, we’ll be encouraging adult audiences to take a 10-minute break for Wellbeing Wednesday. Straight from an armchair, Museum Storytime allows the team to tell the anecdotal stories about our collections not always brought to the fore in interpretation, but well worth sharing.

    Lastly, on Fridays at 10am, our ever popular Wee Wardlaws session for under 5s is also going digital, bringing our audience rhymes, stories, activities and crafts inspired by our collections, and encouraging children to create their own museum.

    More widely within the University, the cultural partners: the Byre Theatre, Laidlaw Music Centre, the Library and Museums of the University of St Andrews, are working closely together to bring audiences Culture At Home: a regular dose of performance, music, images, objects, films, poetry, literature or podcasts, from the University of St Andrews or recommended for you by our cultural experts.

    All of our online engagement can be accessed – http://www.facebook.com/MuseumsUniStA / http://www.instagram.com/MuseumsUniStA / http://www.twitter.com/MuseumsUniStA

    Videos can also be accessed – https://museumevents.wp.st-andrews.ac.uk/

  7. Ariel Rondeau answering for Galerie de l’UQAM (Université du Québec à Montréal) here. Since the outbreak, the gallery has been promoting several of its online resources such as Canadian Art as Historical Act, its ongoing virtual exhibition, a compilation of nearly 60 video tours of past shows on Vimeo as well as a new series presented on our website and all of our social media accounts grouping works from our collection, publications in pdf format, past exhibitions and much more around one theme per day. You’ll find the links leading to each activity below:

    The Canadian Art as Historical Act virtual exhibition:
    https://galerie.uqam.ca/en/category/virtual-exhibitions/

    Compilation of video tours of past shows on Vimeo:
    https://vimeo.com/showcase/6878310

    Daily themed publications:
    https://galerie.uqam.ca/actualites/thematiques-de-la-semaine/

  8. Hello, I’am Nuria García from University of Cantabria (Spain). Since the confinement began, we are created a new web site where every days we shows one piece of the University Heritage (collections, exhibitions, didactical material, publications, etc.). Also, you can visit our buildings through a virtual visit and to know the most important pieces through interviews in Youtube.
    We are publishing in the social networks every days a post with all information. We hope that you like it.

    More information:
    Project Website “Your Cultural Campus in house”: https://web.unican.es/campuscultural/Paginas/Tu-Campus-Cultural-desde-casa.aspx
    UC Social Networks:
    https://www.facebook.com/exposicionesUC/
    https://www.instagram.com/areadeexposiciones/
    University Heritage Web: uhttps://web.unican.es/utiles/patrimonio

  9. Hi! At the University of Granada, (Spain) since the confinement began, social networks have played an essential role in presenting content that shows the collections of university heritage, and in collaboration with Atalaya 3D makes it easy for you to move to buildings of the University of Granada through of virtual visits.

    Here, you can see more information: https://patrimonio.ugr.es/ugrencasa-extension-universitaria/

    Atalaya 3D: https://atalaya3d.ugr.es/

    Stay safe and healthy!

    1. From the University of Pretoria Museums in South Africa during a 21 national lockdown, we are not resourced or equipped to work remotely from home due to technical challenges, high data costs and do not have enough resources for webinars and zoom workshops, virtual reality or 3-D online exhibitions are not yet possible. However, this has set us a great challenge, as this period has made us reflect on how curators-work-from-home, updating our website, bringing weekly objects and artworks from exhibitions which are closed to the public onto online platforms. Our engagement this year has been amazing work with the Disability Unit, and welcoming our first canine visitor into the museums, roles have flipped as we discover that the museums are technologically challenged- something we did not envisage would impact so greatly on our work. We challenged our staff who are working remotely from home, to take photos of their workspaces, dogs, cats, children and PCs to demonstrate that work continues, amid family and working life- striking a balance. For some collections managers it is the ideal time to fine tune and upload the backlog of accessioned items onto the database, the conservator continues art conservation in her home studio and it provides the ideal time to work on proposals and articles. The challenge is finding and striking a balance and discussions about post-covid have to begin now. The University of Pretoria is doing amazing work for their community in all sectors and nationally all museums are closed, the economic and social impact is far greater concern, and perhaps discussions about the heritage impact and museological impact this will have globally for the next 18 months should commence.

  10. Hello, I´m Mariana Hi, I’m Mariana from the La Plata Physics Museum, Argentina. We have been in quarantine for 14 days and we have for 14 more days.
    We try to keep in touch with our visitors through social networks, posting videos with simple experiences to do at home.
    As for the care of heritage, it is a problem, because we cannot access the collections because the Faculty is completely closed. We also continue to work through meetings via Zoom and Wathsapp.
    Starting in the middle of April we will also start, together with the Mundo Nuevo science popularization program, to teach an online training course for our mediators, educators.
    For the moment it is what we were able to develop in this strange time that surprised us all. We hope that these new practices help innovate in our museums and improve our proposals for the future. Greetings to all and to take good care of yourselves.

  11. At the Lowe the University of Miami has provided a strong infrastructure for working remotely. We have embraced the use of Office 365 and its remote tools such as Teams, SharePoint and One Drive. We have been using Teams as a combination of project management, teleconferencing and document sharing. SharePoint we have set up an internal website for staff that aggregates the many of the COVID-19 resources being sent around by the field. One Drive has obviously been embraced to remotely access files and also share and collaborate. The transition has been relatively smooth. On the interpretive side of things we at the Lowe Art Museum are strategizing how we can make more educational material available to our community. We are doing this through Lowe On The Go which is a daily does of art from our collection with descriptive information. This is mostly a marketing engagement campaign. From this we are developing a virtual tour of all of the objects highlighted through Guide by Cell platform that visitors can access online with their mobile devices. We are combing through our educational lesson plans and looking for opportunities to post these resources on our website for lessons that can be done at home. We are also looking at a host of virtual online options. Do do this in a way that is strategic, intentional, cohesive and achievable we have created a Remote Engagement Task Force that will begin meeting virtually on a weekly basis to outline new initiatives that focus on digital engagement across all departments: advancement, marketing, membership, exhibitions, education and visitor services. Lastly, we are making updates to our website with digital resources and assessing what types of navigational changes might be necessary to lead visitors to resources.

  12. Hi friends. Here in Florence, Italy, our musems and Botanical Garden are closed. Only a core of gardeners goes physically at work in the garden, and with springtime it deserves a lot. For alarm and air conditioned systems (for anatomical waxes or Herbarium and for all the museums) just one people at time, in case of normal check or other needs, with official permission from Direction, with all individual protection and the form filled for the guard at the entrance, can enter in museums.
    For activities for childrens confined at home, you can find some simple games on our website: “Tempo di giochi”. But now many schools, also primary schools, are using digital platforms to make lessons and they are connected with the teachers. So they have no more time!! Like us, in smart working. But at the end, we are lucky and our thoughts are towards people in the hospitals in northern Italy especially and to the big amount of deads.

  13. At Gallaudet University, all our students have transitioned to remote learning. The National Deaf Life Museum was halfway through an exhibition project with six interns, and we are now working on pivoting the project to an online exhibition. This is challenging as our students do not have the resources they would have on campus, but we are hopeful that making it an online exhibition will bring a wider audience.

  14. Two of my colleagues here at Middlebury — our Curator of Asian Art Sarah Laursen and our Sabarsky Graduate Fellow Sarah Briggs — launched a new initiative, http://www.vermontartonline.org, which lets families, students, educators, and the public enjoy Vermont’s museums and galleries from the comfort and safety of their own homes. Vermont Art Online offers virtual 360-degree tours of participating cultural sites as well as ideas for and links to videos, classes, and online arts activities that people can do at home. If you’re looking for ways to keep up your museum-going while you shelter in place, there’s plenty of culture to take in here. Stay safe and healthy!

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