There have been a number of major changes at the National Maritime Museum in the last few months – some physical, with new buildings and infrastructure as part of the Sammy Ofer Wing and new galleries, and some virtual, with new websites and gallery interactives.
The changes to the Collections website are significant. We launched this as part of the new wing in July and have been running it as a live beta. It has a vastly improved visual interface, driven by a desire to make it easier to experience some of the amazing works of art, objects and records we have.
We’ve improved the search behind the scenes so that we can hopefully get you to the right object or record you are looking for quickly. We also hope it directs you to related content and lets you see how the object is part of other exhibitions, personal collections, themes or related publications.
We now have more than 250,000 records available and will continue to release more. This means making content available where we don’t have full records. All of the research showed that doing this was the priority, even if we had some gaps in our knowledge.
Help improve our records
This is where we hope you can come in. If you have information that you feel is important or key to a record then we would be very glad to hear from you. Each record now has a ‘Share your knowledge‘ feature, where you can contact us and help improve the information we have. We have already had a significant number of records updated, and these records now feature a credit to the person who has helped us.
Other important features are the ability to save searches, create your own collections, download images and add tags. We hope that the ability to share and add collections to your own websites and social networks will also prove useful.
Opening up our data
One of the primary reasons for changing the collection website was to enable the data to be used in more flexible ways, both by the Museum and by software/application developers. Providing our content with an API (Application Programming Interface) means that other people can use our data and find new contexts for our content – whether that is another museum, university, public body or just someone with a good idea and some understanding of developing web services. We’re using it to help do new things in the Museum’s galleries and to bring you more of our vast collection.
The new site is helping us discover parts of the collection that were perhaps a little hidden before.
We have switched over to the the new site permanently now and hope it works for you too. We are making lots of changes as we go and we’re always looking for feedback, so do let us know your thoughts.