‘It’s been good for the whole team – people aren’t scared of or nervous about digital stuff in the way that they were.’

Louise Pichel
Archivist – Digital Lead, Museum of Freemasonry

The Museum of Freemasonry has developed a new digital strategy, which they linked to the museum’s archive plan from the start. Firstly, the team assessed their archive and consulted researchers to review the service’s strengths, weaknesses and future priorities. Simultaneously, the Archivist (Digital Lead) managed a museum-wide project that used the Digital Culture Compass to review the museum’s digital activities and decide their next steps. They then joined a consortium to purchase the software Preservica and used the ‘Plugged In, Powered Up’ peer mentoring scheme to help develop a digital preservation strategy and policy. These strands came together to form an overarching digital strategy covering museum, library and archive collections.

The new strategy drove the team to use new digital tools, which allowed the archive to respond to lockdown, such as running webinars and subtitling online events for accessibility. They collected digital material for the first time during lockdown, including websites and videos from across the country. The team also focused on making the catalogue more accessible, with the Archivist (Digital Lead) learning the basics of the programming language Python to clean up the data and add 450 new catalogue records to the online catalogue Discovery. Determined to find multiple uses for their work, they then added these records to the AiM25 catalogue and plan to add to Archives Hub.

The digital strategy covers every digital element within the museum, and requires staff to consider whether digital will benefit any project, from marketing and exhibitions to collections management and payment processes on site. These considerations have made the whole team more confident to try new approaches. The next step is to continue increasing the collections’ accessibility, including through online exhibition platforms and a digitisation programme. The team will be continuing a dual approach, and advocating for digital and archival best practice.