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New way to explore MOSI’s treasures launched

11 Apr 2011

A unique scheme - led by researchers at The University of Manchester - will allow the public to provide insight into the rich cultural and scientific heritage of one the country’s best loved museums.

MOSI logo

Dr Drew Whitworth, from The School of Education, will lead the project to bring MOSI (Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester) online content to Mancunians by using social media such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

The MOSI Ambient Learning Open Network Group  - known as MOSI-ALONG -  funded by JISC, a national body which awards grants to innovative technology projects in higher education, launches at the museum today (11 April).

It is a collaboration between the School of Education, Mimas, a Centre of Excellence based at The University of Manchester, the Learning Skills Employment Network and MOSI.

In late September, the team will organise a ‘My MOSI showcase festival’ in which prizes will be awarded to the members of the public who have produced the best online content as a result of their involvement with the project.

“Twenty years ago, Manchester became the UK’s first Information City, with community groups being offered free access to the Internet, at the time a relatively new and untried phenomenon,” explained Dr Whitworth an expert in information and digital literacy.

He said: “Our new project brings together local institutions to continue this tradition of innovative uses of information and communications technologies to enhance Manchester’s rich cultural and scientific heritage.

“It give local communities a role in looking after the information and heritage which is meaningful to them, just as they might look after and cultivate other things which help keep communities healthy like schools, parks and pubs.”

Antonio Benitez, Public Engagement officer at MOSI said: "This project is a fantastic way to highlight our collections to a much wider audience. We already promote many of our events via social media, but visitors are often unaware that our collections are available online as well as in the Museum. This is really a wonderful resource to learn about the heritage of Greater Manchester and something which is accessible to everyone, so the more chat we generate about it via social media, the more we hope it will be used."

With the help of experts from Mimas, the project will develop bridges between MOSI’s own web site and social media such as Facebook, Flickr, YouTube and blogs, so web surfers will see content at both locations integrated with each other.

Visitors will be able to see memories and stories about the collections, and add their own on visitors’ virtual spaces.

He added: ““By using these modern technologies, this development could help redefine the role of museums by bringing the public in closer contact to what they do.

“Many museum web sites just show a photo of the object along with a brief description - like a card stuck beside the object in a case.

“Sites like Facebook, Flickr and YouTube offer a lot more possibilities than that.”

The Manchester team will work with the Learning Skills and Employment Network through their links with the Peoples’ Voice Media group and community learning champions.

With the help of Mimas, the project will create a bridge between the MOSI web site and the stories the Manchester community will have to tell.

Paola Marchionni, programme manager at JISC, said: "MOSI-ALONG is an excellent example of a project that makes use of social networking tools, strong partnerships and focused community engagement activities to provide the public not only with the opportunity to interact with heritage artefacts but also enhance the museum's offering."