Examining Explore from National Museums Scotland

Web Crit
Rob Cawston, National Museums Scotland, UK, Elaine Macintyre, National Museums Scotland, UK

The Explore section of the National Museums Scotland website (www.nms.ac.uk/explore) was launched in 2016 and aims to provide visitors with an “online equivalent of a visit to one of our four museums”. The site provides a broad range of audiences with different experiences of and insight into our collections through narrative storytelling, online games, films and educational resources. It also includes access to the Museums’ searchable database of objects, providing easy access to and over 450,000 records (http://www.nms.ac.uk/explore/search-our-collections/). The site won the Digital Creative Strategy category at the Drum Scottish Creative Awards in 2016.

Explore was first conceived in 2014, during a rebuild of the entire website (www.nms.ac.uk), and then extensively redeveloped in 2016 with the aim of i) telling stories about our collections rather than simply providing information; ii) increasing the reach of the National Museums Scotland brand to new audiences; and iii) providing a better platform for re-purposing content from galleries and exhibitions, to make the most of this investment of time and budget.

We hope this crit room session will explore how well we’ve met our key design challenges, including: how to bring together a range of rich-media content under one intuitive interface and how to create adaptable “long-form” story-telling templates to suit a range of purposes. A critique of the site from peers at Museums and the Web 2017 would provide invaluable feedback in helping us shape future aspirations for the site and confirm or challenge our plans going forward.

The websites for submission:
- The Explore section of the National Museums Scotland website http://www.nms.ac.uk/explore
- Search the Collections of National Museums Scotland http://www.nms.ac.uk/explore/search-our-collections/

- Drum Scottish Creative Awards 2016, Digital Creative Strategy http://www.scottishcreativeawards.com/scottish-creative-awards-2016/creative-strategy-digitalsocial-media-strategy/360million-years-of-history-in-the-palm-of-your-hand
References and inspirations:
- A collection of design inspirations http://museumonline.tumblr.com/
- Digital Stories, Wellcome Collection http://digitalstories.wellcomecollection.org
- Walker Art Center, 75th Anniversary http://www.walkerart.org/75/
- Google Art Project, Street Art https://streetart.withgoogle.com/en/
- iWonder, BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/iwonder
- ShowMe, Culture24 http://www.show.me.uk/
- Awwwards.com https://www.awwwards.com/
- Explore, Wellcome Collection https://next.wellcomecollection.org/explore
- British Museum Search http://search.britishmuseum.org
- Discover, Museum of London https://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/discover