Digital commissions inspire young people to engage with museums

Innovative new programmes to be launched in the West Midlands.

Arts Connect West Midlands have announced the commission of two experimental digital and film pilot programmes. Together, they will demonstrate how film and digital media can be used to make heritage and library collections more accessible and inspiring to children and young people.

The artworks and digital interpretations of the collections at the lead organisations, Lace Guild and Black Country Living Museum and partner sites will be accessible through mobiles, tablets and computers. This will enable young people to gain a wider knowledge of the collections through each different platform. Activity will take place over the summer/early autumn with findings shared in early 2015.

Arts Connect has invested a total of £39,000 in two commissions:

Birmingham based We are Frilly, in partnership with Milk Bar Studios, will work with the Lace Guild Museum in Stourbridge to explore digital ways of engaging children and young people with their collections and the craft itself. This will include site-specific window projections, video tutorials created by young lace makers, geocache trails reflecting local heritage that explores the artistic use of NeverWet spray (super hydrophobic coating), and cutting-edge technology in the form of iBeacons (bluetooth transmitters trialled at SXSW 2014). All content will feed an app and website creating a vibrant range of unique user and visitor experiences.

Sian Macfarlane in partnership with Anthony Davies and Noel Murphy will work with the Black Country Living Museum, Dudley Archive and Library, The Earl of Dudley Estate Collection and Wren’s Nest on an interactive landscape project. They will use cutting edge light projection and mapping systems to create an installation that puts the users into an immersive space where they can explore landscapes and areas from various times, creating their own map.

Rob Elkington, Director of Arts Connect said: “The aim of this project is to show how venues can bring their collections to life and generate compelling and enticing experiences for children, young people and their families. We hope they will inspire other venues to explore the potential for creating content across online platforms and reaching wider audiences. We are delighted to be investing in such innovative projects and organisations as part of our mission to ensure children and young people can access and enjoy a range of artistic and cultural experiences.”

Kirsty Hillyer, Director of We are Frilly added: “We’re thrilled Arts Connect chose our project with the Lace Guild as so often independent volunteer-led museums can be overlooked when competing with larger institutions. We hope that the collision of traditional craft with hipster-chic technology will spark a growing interest in the work of the guild with younger audiences, and inspire other small museums to experiment with new technology.”

Sian Macfarlane said: “We are really excited by the commission; it has provided us with a unique opportunity to work collaboratively, each of us bringing different skills and experience to the project. The commission gives us the chance to experiment with new ideas and create a unique piece of work, using cutting edge digital techniques. Work has started at Dudley Archives , and we aim to bring to life archival materials from the rich resources there, to create an innovative and immersive interactive installation in partnership with the museum.”

Museums and libraries are traditionally accessed physically this pilot will explore ways to reach out to new and young audiences through means that they are more familiar with – digital technology. The two commissions explore contemporary technology with historical facts enabling exploration into both the collections and digital developments.

Arts Connect West Midlands is one of ten Bridge organisations, funded by Arts Council England to connect children and young people with great arts and cultural experiences. For further information on these commissions and the work of Arts Connect visit: