The Earth Museum: Our First Year

We launched The Earth Museum one year ago, and it feels like a good time to reflect on our experiences so far. First, we want to thank all our followers and supporters for your interest in our work to date; and we’re looking forward to creating more exciting content with you.

As you know, we are investigating the idea of a digital platform that invites the sharing and connecting of global cultural and natural heritage, as a place-based, sustainable development learning resource. We want to dissolve the walls and protective packaging around objects, wherever they might be, and re-connect them with the people, places and stories that give meaning.

In terms of numbers, our Story and Object Explorers now contain over 50 stories and 1,500 objects. These stories link to 53 museums across the globe, and have involved 11 guest contributors. People have visited our website on 17,000 occasions and viewed over 100,000 pages, with an associated 170,000 data requests.

More significantly, however, we have been learning about the power of connected stories and opportunities for citizen engagement.

Museums and heritage sites that focus specifically on telling the story of a locality, or specific types of collection, rarely uncover the myriad of global connections inherent in their story content. How lamps burning train oil to illuminate the textile factories of C19th Britain are connected with the colonial appropriation of Māori lands in Aotearoa New Zealand, or the near extinction of whale species in the Southern Oceans.

Image:  yueya-sunny from Pixabay

How an opium house sign on display in the National Museum of Singapore links to the C19th shipping industry in Sunderland, and its entanglement with the British-sanctioned opium drugs trade in South-east Asia.

Every local story has a global dimension, with diverse perspectives, often missing in museum narratives. Yet these provide opportunities to engage audiences with UN sustainable development goals of the present, including ‘responsible production and consumerism’, ‘reduced inequalities’, and ‘climate action’.

STEM-based Climate Change Explorer Session, Gosport and Fareham Multi-Academy Trust

Central to The Earth Museum approach is the development of co-curation methodologies that facilitate citizen engagement in the creation of content.  The approaches and ArcGIS-based platform we have developed will be used to pilot social and economic impact work. We have particular interests in supporting community health and wellbeing, skills development and job creation, social mobility and education attainment, and initiatives concerned with looking after the planet and its heritage.

We are now looking to develop collaborative pilots in partnership with:

  • Cultural and natural heritage organisations
  • Education and wellbeing providers working with young people aged 13 +, and adult learners in formal and informal contexts
  • Place-based regeneration initiatives
  • Creative practitioners interested in socially engaged practice and place-based work
  • Organisations involved in sustainable development and the green economy

Please share The Earth Museum’s link with your networks, and if you are interested in becoming involved as a founding member/ partner, please do get in touch at enquiries@theearthmuseum.co.uk

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