Transatlantic Perspectives on the Use of Data Science in Museums and Heritage

Lead Research Organisation: Royal Holloway, University of London
Department Name: History

Abstract

Current developments in data science have been employed across the commercial world but they also offer a wealth of possibilities for improving visitor experience in cultural institutions, with potential benefits on a significant scale. Indeed, in 2016-17, 52% of British people visited a museum and 74% visited a heritage site. This represents an encouraging level of engagement, however there remains significant potential for increasing participation. For example, figures from the US suggest that attendance at art museums, galleries and heritage sites showed a clear decline between 2002 and 2012. This is mirrored in recent UK figures; for example, visits to government sponsored museums and galleries declined by 0.8% in the single year from 2015/16 to 2016/17. To increase visitor numbers, and improve the experience for existing audiences, we need to develop a better understanding of visitors' responses and requirements. In line with this aim, this project will create a network to investigate the possibilities for using advanced data science to realise the full potential of museums' existing visitor data (e.g. visitor numbers, social media comments) in order to understand and improve visitor engagement.

Our multidisciplinary network comprises academics from History, Psychology, Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, in combination with a diverse team of British and American museums, heritage organisations and technology companies:

- Colonial Williamsburg (Virginia, US) is the world's largest living history museum, with over forty sites and two art museums.
- Historic Royal Palaces runs six of the UK's most iconic palaces, including the Tower of London and Hampton Court.
- The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia (Pennsylvania, US) is one of America's oldest and most respected science museums.
- Sussex Past runs a variety of heritage sites and museums including Fishbourne Roman Palace, Lewes Castle and Anne of Cleves House.
- The JORVIK Group comprises five heritage attractions in the city of York, including the world-famous JORVIK Viking Centre.
- Royal Holloway's Picture Gallery boasts a world-class collection of Victorian art.
- Mechdyne is a leading innovator in visualisation, 3D, VR and machine learning in commercial contexts.
- Smartify is an SME with an app that allows museum visitors to receive detailed information using AR and museums to receive the data analytics generated.

The varied nature of these partnering cultural institutions will provide our network with a uniquely diverse range of perspectives that will be shared through a range of networking events and meetings. Our final meeting will identify concrete plans for future funded research projects and network development. The planned activities will also generate documentary records of the discussions. These will be disseminated across our partners and the AHRC with a view to informing the shape of future priorities in a constantly shifting technological landscape.

Planned Impact

1. Engagement with key stakeholders from the heritage, museum and technology sectors

This project will create a new interdisciplinary partnership comprising academics from four different departments together with UK and US heritage and technology experts. This network will be the fundamental output of the planned work. As part of our discussions, we will focus explicitly on future planning in order to identify opportunities for future network development and to ensure that we are ideally placed to develop applications for further funding. Our named partners will derive genuine benefits from their involvement in this new interdisciplinary network and the relationships that it will allow them to build with technology and heritage organisations alike.

2. Dissemination

Documentary records of the network's discussions will be distributed after each meeting, thereby giving partners tangible resources that they can immediately draw upon within their own institutions. The discussions will also be summarised in a final report to be disseminated across our partners and the AHRC.

3. Academic development

This project allows the academic team, including the research assistant and any PhD students who become involved, to develop advanced understanding of the potential application of data science in cultural institutions, providing career development for all team members and equipping them with enhanced capabilities for contributing to future projects that bring advanced technological approaches to cultural institutions.

4. Longer-term impacts

This project will have the potential for major impact upon the use of visitor data in heritage organisations, transforming the ways in which these institutions engage with their audiences. The findings will also have applicability well beyond visitor data to maximise the impact of all the other data that museums and heritage organisations possess. Indeed, the work will have applicability beyond heritage contexts, for data-driven enhancements of user experience in any sector.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description This project is currently still running, so full impact is not yet known about completely. However, project partners have started to report increased understanding of how data obtained from visitors, both on and off site, might be used in order to improve visitor experience and engagement. Also some project partners have reported that greater understanding of what can be done in terms of analysing visitor data is now able to be used to fulfil requirements for the museum and gallery accreditation procedure. All project partners have reported increased awareness and understanding of the challenges of ethical data collection and they are disseminating information about this throughout their institutions.
First Year Of Impact 2020
Sector Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural

 
Description International Network for Transatlantic Perspectives on the Use of Data Science in Museums and Heritage Network 
Organisation Fishbourne Roman Palace
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution During this project my research team and I have developed an International Network of cultural institutions, technology partners and UK higher Education institutions. I have organised 2 two-day workshops which brought together the project partners, my research team and myself to explore the use of data science and technology within museums and heritage institutions and the ways in which they can be used to improve visitor experience and engagement. During these 2 day events my research team and I organised and made presentations and workshop activities exploring various aspects of data science in cultural institutions and the challenges and opportunities they pose. Additionally we also organise 3 half day meetings and arranged for experts in data science, heritage and the ethics of data science to talk to our partners. All events were written up by myself and the research team, resources were circulated across the Network for future reference. These have been located on a Network forum for all Network members to access and refer to both now and in the future. Additionally this Network Forum is regularly being added to with resources for partners and the research team to access. All Network members have the ability to add resources to this Forum as desired/necessary. This is therefore an ongoing resource for the Network to be continued after the completion of the grant. Preparatory material for all events was developed and circulated by myself and my research team in advance of meetings. My team and I wrote a final Network report and circulated this to all Network members.
Collaborator Contribution All partners gave substantial time to this project both for attending the two day events and the 3 half day events and the travel to these events. Additionally, Historic Royal Palaces, Franklin Institute and RHUL Picture Gallery offered free use of space and catering for events. All partners offered access to data (in accordance with GDPR regulations) for use in workshop events, and all partners prepared in advance for the meetings and events. All partners offered mentoring and advice to other members of the Network where appropriate and shared best practice information about the use of data science within their institutions. Mechdyne offered monthly advice and information to the partners on the role of industry in cultural heritage institutions.
Impact Report on the proceedings of the International Network circulated amongst Network partners 'Report on Transatlantic Perspectives on Data Science in Museums and Heritage'. Disciplines involved in writing this were History, Psychology, Computer Science, Electronic Engineering. Ongoing collaboration between existing and new partners leading to further AHRC grant application - Dec 2019. Application was ultimately unsuccessful. It is intended that further collaborative grant applications will be made by the Network. Disciplines involved in these new grant applications History, Psychology, Computer Science, Electronic Engineering, Critical disability studies
Start Year 2019
 
Description International Network for Transatlantic Perspectives on the Use of Data Science in Museums and Heritage Network 
Organisation Franklin Institute
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution During this project my research team and I have developed an International Network of cultural institutions, technology partners and UK higher Education institutions. I have organised 2 two-day workshops which brought together the project partners, my research team and myself to explore the use of data science and technology within museums and heritage institutions and the ways in which they can be used to improve visitor experience and engagement. During these 2 day events my research team and I organised and made presentations and workshop activities exploring various aspects of data science in cultural institutions and the challenges and opportunities they pose. Additionally we also organise 3 half day meetings and arranged for experts in data science, heritage and the ethics of data science to talk to our partners. All events were written up by myself and the research team, resources were circulated across the Network for future reference. These have been located on a Network forum for all Network members to access and refer to both now and in the future. Additionally this Network Forum is regularly being added to with resources for partners and the research team to access. All Network members have the ability to add resources to this Forum as desired/necessary. This is therefore an ongoing resource for the Network to be continued after the completion of the grant. Preparatory material for all events was developed and circulated by myself and my research team in advance of meetings. My team and I wrote a final Network report and circulated this to all Network members.
Collaborator Contribution All partners gave substantial time to this project both for attending the two day events and the 3 half day events and the travel to these events. Additionally, Historic Royal Palaces, Franklin Institute and RHUL Picture Gallery offered free use of space and catering for events. All partners offered access to data (in accordance with GDPR regulations) for use in workshop events, and all partners prepared in advance for the meetings and events. All partners offered mentoring and advice to other members of the Network where appropriate and shared best practice information about the use of data science within their institutions. Mechdyne offered monthly advice and information to the partners on the role of industry in cultural heritage institutions.
Impact Report on the proceedings of the International Network circulated amongst Network partners 'Report on Transatlantic Perspectives on Data Science in Museums and Heritage'. Disciplines involved in writing this were History, Psychology, Computer Science, Electronic Engineering. Ongoing collaboration between existing and new partners leading to further AHRC grant application - Dec 2019. Application was ultimately unsuccessful. It is intended that further collaborative grant applications will be made by the Network. Disciplines involved in these new grant applications History, Psychology, Computer Science, Electronic Engineering, Critical disability studies
Start Year 2019
 
Description International Network for Transatlantic Perspectives on the Use of Data Science in Museums and Heritage Network 
Organisation Historic Royal Palaces
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution During this project my research team and I have developed an International Network of cultural institutions, technology partners and UK higher Education institutions. I have organised 2 two-day workshops which brought together the project partners, my research team and myself to explore the use of data science and technology within museums and heritage institutions and the ways in which they can be used to improve visitor experience and engagement. During these 2 day events my research team and I organised and made presentations and workshop activities exploring various aspects of data science in cultural institutions and the challenges and opportunities they pose. Additionally we also organise 3 half day meetings and arranged for experts in data science, heritage and the ethics of data science to talk to our partners. All events were written up by myself and the research team, resources were circulated across the Network for future reference. These have been located on a Network forum for all Network members to access and refer to both now and in the future. Additionally this Network Forum is regularly being added to with resources for partners and the research team to access. All Network members have the ability to add resources to this Forum as desired/necessary. This is therefore an ongoing resource for the Network to be continued after the completion of the grant. Preparatory material for all events was developed and circulated by myself and my research team in advance of meetings. My team and I wrote a final Network report and circulated this to all Network members.
Collaborator Contribution All partners gave substantial time to this project both for attending the two day events and the 3 half day events and the travel to these events. Additionally, Historic Royal Palaces, Franklin Institute and RHUL Picture Gallery offered free use of space and catering for events. All partners offered access to data (in accordance with GDPR regulations) for use in workshop events, and all partners prepared in advance for the meetings and events. All partners offered mentoring and advice to other members of the Network where appropriate and shared best practice information about the use of data science within their institutions. Mechdyne offered monthly advice and information to the partners on the role of industry in cultural heritage institutions.
Impact Report on the proceedings of the International Network circulated amongst Network partners 'Report on Transatlantic Perspectives on Data Science in Museums and Heritage'. Disciplines involved in writing this were History, Psychology, Computer Science, Electronic Engineering. Ongoing collaboration between existing and new partners leading to further AHRC grant application - Dec 2019. Application was ultimately unsuccessful. It is intended that further collaborative grant applications will be made by the Network. Disciplines involved in these new grant applications History, Psychology, Computer Science, Electronic Engineering, Critical disability studies
Start Year 2019
 
Description International Network for Transatlantic Perspectives on the Use of Data Science in Museums and Heritage Network 
Organisation JORVIK Viking Centre
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution During this project my research team and I have developed an International Network of cultural institutions, technology partners and UK higher Education institutions. I have organised 2 two-day workshops which brought together the project partners, my research team and myself to explore the use of data science and technology within museums and heritage institutions and the ways in which they can be used to improve visitor experience and engagement. During these 2 day events my research team and I organised and made presentations and workshop activities exploring various aspects of data science in cultural institutions and the challenges and opportunities they pose. Additionally we also organise 3 half day meetings and arranged for experts in data science, heritage and the ethics of data science to talk to our partners. All events were written up by myself and the research team, resources were circulated across the Network for future reference. These have been located on a Network forum for all Network members to access and refer to both now and in the future. Additionally this Network Forum is regularly being added to with resources for partners and the research team to access. All Network members have the ability to add resources to this Forum as desired/necessary. This is therefore an ongoing resource for the Network to be continued after the completion of the grant. Preparatory material for all events was developed and circulated by myself and my research team in advance of meetings. My team and I wrote a final Network report and circulated this to all Network members.
Collaborator Contribution All partners gave substantial time to this project both for attending the two day events and the 3 half day events and the travel to these events. Additionally, Historic Royal Palaces, Franklin Institute and RHUL Picture Gallery offered free use of space and catering for events. All partners offered access to data (in accordance with GDPR regulations) for use in workshop events, and all partners prepared in advance for the meetings and events. All partners offered mentoring and advice to other members of the Network where appropriate and shared best practice information about the use of data science within their institutions. Mechdyne offered monthly advice and information to the partners on the role of industry in cultural heritage institutions.
Impact Report on the proceedings of the International Network circulated amongst Network partners 'Report on Transatlantic Perspectives on Data Science in Museums and Heritage'. Disciplines involved in writing this were History, Psychology, Computer Science, Electronic Engineering. Ongoing collaboration between existing and new partners leading to further AHRC grant application - Dec 2019. Application was ultimately unsuccessful. It is intended that further collaborative grant applications will be made by the Network. Disciplines involved in these new grant applications History, Psychology, Computer Science, Electronic Engineering, Critical disability studies
Start Year 2019
 
Description International Network for Transatlantic Perspectives on the Use of Data Science in Museums and Heritage Network 
Organisation Mechdyne
Country United States 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution During this project my research team and I have developed an International Network of cultural institutions, technology partners and UK higher Education institutions. I have organised 2 two-day workshops which brought together the project partners, my research team and myself to explore the use of data science and technology within museums and heritage institutions and the ways in which they can be used to improve visitor experience and engagement. During these 2 day events my research team and I organised and made presentations and workshop activities exploring various aspects of data science in cultural institutions and the challenges and opportunities they pose. Additionally we also organise 3 half day meetings and arranged for experts in data science, heritage and the ethics of data science to talk to our partners. All events were written up by myself and the research team, resources were circulated across the Network for future reference. These have been located on a Network forum for all Network members to access and refer to both now and in the future. Additionally this Network Forum is regularly being added to with resources for partners and the research team to access. All Network members have the ability to add resources to this Forum as desired/necessary. This is therefore an ongoing resource for the Network to be continued after the completion of the grant. Preparatory material for all events was developed and circulated by myself and my research team in advance of meetings. My team and I wrote a final Network report and circulated this to all Network members.
Collaborator Contribution All partners gave substantial time to this project both for attending the two day events and the 3 half day events and the travel to these events. Additionally, Historic Royal Palaces, Franklin Institute and RHUL Picture Gallery offered free use of space and catering for events. All partners offered access to data (in accordance with GDPR regulations) for use in workshop events, and all partners prepared in advance for the meetings and events. All partners offered mentoring and advice to other members of the Network where appropriate and shared best practice information about the use of data science within their institutions. Mechdyne offered monthly advice and information to the partners on the role of industry in cultural heritage institutions.
Impact Report on the proceedings of the International Network circulated amongst Network partners 'Report on Transatlantic Perspectives on Data Science in Museums and Heritage'. Disciplines involved in writing this were History, Psychology, Computer Science, Electronic Engineering. Ongoing collaboration between existing and new partners leading to further AHRC grant application - Dec 2019. Application was ultimately unsuccessful. It is intended that further collaborative grant applications will be made by the Network. Disciplines involved in these new grant applications History, Psychology, Computer Science, Electronic Engineering, Critical disability studies
Start Year 2019
 
Description International Network for Transatlantic Perspectives on the Use of Data Science in Museums and Heritage Network 
Organisation Royal Holloway, University of London
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution During this project my research team and I have developed an International Network of cultural institutions, technology partners and UK higher Education institutions. I have organised 2 two-day workshops which brought together the project partners, my research team and myself to explore the use of data science and technology within museums and heritage institutions and the ways in which they can be used to improve visitor experience and engagement. During these 2 day events my research team and I organised and made presentations and workshop activities exploring various aspects of data science in cultural institutions and the challenges and opportunities they pose. Additionally we also organise 3 half day meetings and arranged for experts in data science, heritage and the ethics of data science to talk to our partners. All events were written up by myself and the research team, resources were circulated across the Network for future reference. These have been located on a Network forum for all Network members to access and refer to both now and in the future. Additionally this Network Forum is regularly being added to with resources for partners and the research team to access. All Network members have the ability to add resources to this Forum as desired/necessary. This is therefore an ongoing resource for the Network to be continued after the completion of the grant. Preparatory material for all events was developed and circulated by myself and my research team in advance of meetings. My team and I wrote a final Network report and circulated this to all Network members.
Collaborator Contribution All partners gave substantial time to this project both for attending the two day events and the 3 half day events and the travel to these events. Additionally, Historic Royal Palaces, Franklin Institute and RHUL Picture Gallery offered free use of space and catering for events. All partners offered access to data (in accordance with GDPR regulations) for use in workshop events, and all partners prepared in advance for the meetings and events. All partners offered mentoring and advice to other members of the Network where appropriate and shared best practice information about the use of data science within their institutions. Mechdyne offered monthly advice and information to the partners on the role of industry in cultural heritage institutions.
Impact Report on the proceedings of the International Network circulated amongst Network partners 'Report on Transatlantic Perspectives on Data Science in Museums and Heritage'. Disciplines involved in writing this were History, Psychology, Computer Science, Electronic Engineering. Ongoing collaboration between existing and new partners leading to further AHRC grant application - Dec 2019. Application was ultimately unsuccessful. It is intended that further collaborative grant applications will be made by the Network. Disciplines involved in these new grant applications History, Psychology, Computer Science, Electronic Engineering, Critical disability studies
Start Year 2019
 
Description International Network for Transatlantic Perspectives on the Use of Data Science in Museums and Heritage Network 
Organisation Smartify
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution During this project my research team and I have developed an International Network of cultural institutions, technology partners and UK higher Education institutions. I have organised 2 two-day workshops which brought together the project partners, my research team and myself to explore the use of data science and technology within museums and heritage institutions and the ways in which they can be used to improve visitor experience and engagement. During these 2 day events my research team and I organised and made presentations and workshop activities exploring various aspects of data science in cultural institutions and the challenges and opportunities they pose. Additionally we also organise 3 half day meetings and arranged for experts in data science, heritage and the ethics of data science to talk to our partners. All events were written up by myself and the research team, resources were circulated across the Network for future reference. These have been located on a Network forum for all Network members to access and refer to both now and in the future. Additionally this Network Forum is regularly being added to with resources for partners and the research team to access. All Network members have the ability to add resources to this Forum as desired/necessary. This is therefore an ongoing resource for the Network to be continued after the completion of the grant. Preparatory material for all events was developed and circulated by myself and my research team in advance of meetings. My team and I wrote a final Network report and circulated this to all Network members.
Collaborator Contribution All partners gave substantial time to this project both for attending the two day events and the 3 half day events and the travel to these events. Additionally, Historic Royal Palaces, Franklin Institute and RHUL Picture Gallery offered free use of space and catering for events. All partners offered access to data (in accordance with GDPR regulations) for use in workshop events, and all partners prepared in advance for the meetings and events. All partners offered mentoring and advice to other members of the Network where appropriate and shared best practice information about the use of data science within their institutions. Mechdyne offered monthly advice and information to the partners on the role of industry in cultural heritage institutions.
Impact Report on the proceedings of the International Network circulated amongst Network partners 'Report on Transatlantic Perspectives on Data Science in Museums and Heritage'. Disciplines involved in writing this were History, Psychology, Computer Science, Electronic Engineering. Ongoing collaboration between existing and new partners leading to further AHRC grant application - Dec 2019. Application was ultimately unsuccessful. It is intended that further collaborative grant applications will be made by the Network. Disciplines involved in these new grant applications History, Psychology, Computer Science, Electronic Engineering, Critical disability studies
Start Year 2019
 
Description International Network for Transatlantic Perspectives on the Use of Data Science in Museums and Heritage Network 
Organisation The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
Country United States 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution During this project my research team and I have developed an International Network of cultural institutions, technology partners and UK higher Education institutions. I have organised 2 two-day workshops which brought together the project partners, my research team and myself to explore the use of data science and technology within museums and heritage institutions and the ways in which they can be used to improve visitor experience and engagement. During these 2 day events my research team and I organised and made presentations and workshop activities exploring various aspects of data science in cultural institutions and the challenges and opportunities they pose. Additionally we also organise 3 half day meetings and arranged for experts in data science, heritage and the ethics of data science to talk to our partners. All events were written up by myself and the research team, resources were circulated across the Network for future reference. These have been located on a Network forum for all Network members to access and refer to both now and in the future. Additionally this Network Forum is regularly being added to with resources for partners and the research team to access. All Network members have the ability to add resources to this Forum as desired/necessary. This is therefore an ongoing resource for the Network to be continued after the completion of the grant. Preparatory material for all events was developed and circulated by myself and my research team in advance of meetings. My team and I wrote a final Network report and circulated this to all Network members.
Collaborator Contribution All partners gave substantial time to this project both for attending the two day events and the 3 half day events and the travel to these events. Additionally, Historic Royal Palaces, Franklin Institute and RHUL Picture Gallery offered free use of space and catering for events. All partners offered access to data (in accordance with GDPR regulations) for use in workshop events, and all partners prepared in advance for the meetings and events. All partners offered mentoring and advice to other members of the Network where appropriate and shared best practice information about the use of data science within their institutions. Mechdyne offered monthly advice and information to the partners on the role of industry in cultural heritage institutions.
Impact Report on the proceedings of the International Network circulated amongst Network partners 'Report on Transatlantic Perspectives on Data Science in Museums and Heritage'. Disciplines involved in writing this were History, Psychology, Computer Science, Electronic Engineering. Ongoing collaboration between existing and new partners leading to further AHRC grant application - Dec 2019. Application was ultimately unsuccessful. It is intended that further collaborative grant applications will be made by the Network. Disciplines involved in these new grant applications History, Psychology, Computer Science, Electronic Engineering, Critical disability studies
Start Year 2019
 
Description Presentation and discussion about project as a stakeholder partner on Digitourism Interreg Europe funded grant on digital and immersive technology in heritage and tourism 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact As a result of this project I have been invited as a consulting stakeholder partner on an Interreg EU funded project of the role of digital and immersive technologies in tourism and heritage. My discussion of the Network project and findings with EU partners sparked many questions and further debate. Project partners on the EU project have reported increased interest in the understanding more about the role of data science across the heritage and museum sector - including in terms of how data science can be analysed and the ethical concerns this might pose.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019,2020
 
Description Project presentation and discussion with Surrey History Centre and Surrey County Council 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Presentation and discussion of project with staff at Surrey History Centre and Surrey County Council. Sparked much discussion and questions and audience reported increased interest in the topic of data science in museums and the challenges and opportunities it poses the heritage sector.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Research visit to Bruswick Arts Group 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact 15 members of Brunswick Arts group attended a presentation session led by PI. Presentation was 40 mins followed by questions and debate. Brunswick Arts group reported increased interest across the company following the event, leading to follow-up discussions across the company on the role of data science in cultural heritage and the benefits and challenges this poses.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019