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New Perspectives

Happy, Safe, Connected and Free – Appealing concept or ridiculous ambition?

In his latest blog, Collections Trust CEO Nick Poole reflects on the recent #futureofculture event at the British Library and looks at the need to make the case for supporting the arts and culture by appealing to higher ideals, such as happiness, safety, connectedness and freedom.

10 Steps to a DAM Strategy for your Museum

image: Digital Asset Management logoAt the sell-out DAM for Museums Conference on 27 November, Collections Trust’s CEO Nick Poole delivered a plenary presentation which included a 10-step guide to developing a DAM strategy for your museum. By using these simple steps as a guideline, you can move from initial discussions to developing a business case and then onto the implementation of your DAMS.

Video: Nick Poole on the Museum Experience

image: Nick PooleWatch Collections Trust CEO Nick Poole discuss the ways in which technology is transforming the museum experience.

#AllezCulture and the Right to Culture

Collections Trust CEO Nick Poole was invited to address the @Europeanaeu event at Dublin Castle as part of the Irish Presidency of the EU. The full transcipt of his address is provided below:

Good morning ladies and gentlemen. It is a great pleasure to be invited to address you here today. As an Englishman, I’d like to thank Chris for allowing me back into the building. Reading from the Dublin Castle website, I see the words, “King John of England commanded the erection of a (larger) strong castle, with strong walls and good ditches, for the defence of the city, administration of justice and safe custody of treasure”.

My aim here today is simple. I am here to enlist your support to build a strong foundation for our common cultural heritage, to ensure the safe custody of our digital treasures.

Winning the #artsdebate

Today at 2.30pm, the House of Commons will host the first cross-party debate on the value and importance of the arts in nearly 5 years. It is a crticial opportunity for the arts & culture lobby to engage productively and creatively with Government, to draw a line under the more polemical ends of this debate and to look ahead to what the UK needs from its arts & culture policy. 

Collections Trust welcomes MA ‘Public Attitudes to Museums’ Research

image: MA 2020 reportThe Collections Trust has welcomed the findings of the Museums Association’s “Public Attitudes to Museums” research, which show that the public regard collections, conservation, and collections-related knowledge as the essential core purpose of museums.

UK Government Urged to Protect Cultural Heritage in War Zones

Image showing surgical bombing of mobile radar installations near a site of cultural significanceSpeaking at an event at the Society of Antiquaries last night to mark the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, leading academic Professor Peter Stone of Newcastle University called on the UK Government to sign up to a law created in 1954 to protect heritage sites and artefacts in war zones around the world.

The 1954 Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict is a key piece of international humanitarian law which requires Governments and the military to protect sites of cultural significance during fighting. The UK Government signed the documentation in 1954, but has so far not introduced the legislation which would make it legally binding.

Speaking at the event, which was attended by the former Ambassador to Iraq as well as representatives of the culture sector and the armed forces, Professor Stone Commented, “As I stand before you in March 2013, approaching the 10th anniversary of the invasion in Iraq, the UK has still not ratified [the 1954 Hague Convention]. This leaves the UK isolated internationally and at a significant disadvantage in our aspiration to be a global leader with regard to international humanitarian law. This position undermines our claim to be at the forefront of working for global security and peace.”

On Saturday 23rd March, Newcastle University and UK charity the Collections Trust will hold a Cultural Property Protection Day School in London to highlight recent examples of looting and damage to cultural heritage and to make the case for ratification. The day school is open to the public, who can book online at There is also a petition encouraging the Government to ratify the 1954 Hague Convention at

What's in it for UK Archives?

I was honoured to be invited to join a panel at today's UK Archives Discovery Forum 2013 at the National Archives in Kew to address the question of 'What's in it for archives and their users?' The 'it' being the various methods of opening data up for discovery, use and enjoyment via platforms such as Europeana, the Culture Grid ( and the Google Cultural Institute Platform. I thought it might be useful to post my comments here for your feedback, so here goes!

I would argue that after 10 years of activity around sharing collections and archival collections online, we've learnt that there are 3 distinct groups of benefits:

Benefits to the archive and museum profession

Benefits to audiences

Political capital

I would argue that the most fundamental aspect of professional benefit focuses on the fact that it is our job  - the impulse to gather, refine, organise and share knowledge is encoded into our professional DNA. Much of this discussion is a logical extension of what we do already into a new era of tools and use cases.

i always make the case that as a professional community, we share most in common with the Commons community. sharing our data is a form of digital solidarity, and one of the most common use cases we find is professionals finding each other, researching their own collections and building knowledge capital between our organisations.

Not only this, but if provides us with an internal advocacy tool  - having been involved in the world of cataloging for the past decade, I know that our biggest problem is not technical or structural but personal. By opening our collections up, we put a value proposition in front of our work, which helps us to express its value.

The best thing is that opening up our data demonstrates the reason why we do our job - well structured knowledge and information flows better in a linked data world, and is more futureproof, and it enables us to be more agile in saying 'yes' to participating in things like the GCI Platform which might help us reach out to users.

For the public, opening up collections online is about much more than opening up collections online - discoverability is only the beginning of the question. The real challenge is relevance . Our data is the token which buys us into the game in this brave new world. The quality of it is what gives us our unique value, but the real purpose of it is to give people the raw materials through which to explore their sense of agency, to discovery their own literacy rand to help the, create new forms of capital.

And in this world, digital integrity is a coinage with a real and very direct value. The need for trust in our institutions, the ability to verify and judgau digital authenticity is a real currency. If we enclose it, if we refuse to share it, we are hoarding the most important value we have in a Digital and Creative Economy.

And finally, the political value of this whole domain of discourse is immense. We hear every day of the impact of cuts in public expenditure on culture. I'm not going to comment on that but I will say that both in the UK and Europe, we deseparately need a new product which is fit for this political environment, and in the years to come.

Linked open data,  sharing metadata openly so that it can be repurposed infinitely  - whether it is Europeana, or the Culture Grid or Google - is that new product, and has the potential to change the political discourse about our work.

More than this, though, this is aout some very fundamental principles. Opening up the public record for discovery and re-use is a fundamental feafore of democracy and transparency. It is how we hold public institutions and corporations to account. So we have a moral imperative to use the tools and knowledge at our disposal - whether they are a destination or a channel  - to fulfil our public remit.






One Object Per Child

It was Bill Thompson who said it. We had just finished lunch at the Fitzwilliam Museum, when Bill set his cup of tea down in its saucer and said 'Wouldn't it be great if we could give a 3D printed copy of a museum object to every child in the country'.

Somebody made a wisecrack about sounding like a fantastic opportunity for disposal, and the conversation carried on to other things. 

But the idea stayed with me. And the more I think about it, the more I think 'why not?'. It's like an itch I can't seem to scratch, so I am sharing it here in the hope that someone will either tell me why it won't work, or we'll start a movement!

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