Maritime Museum deep dives into online exhibitions and programs
As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, the work life of employees at the Australian National Maritime Museum (the Museum) quickly shifted. As projects such as travelling around Australia with the Encounters 2020 Program were suspended, attention moved to creating more online experiences for visitors. The Museum’s employees have learnt to master virtual meetings and to collaborate digitally, to bring online Museum experiences into Australian homes.
Like many national and cultural institutions, when the pandemic hit the Museum closed its doors to physical visits from the public. Reflecting on this time, Ash Brady, the Museum’s Digital Marketing Manager, said, “We had to run head first into creating online experiences and making sure we stayed top of mind with our visitors during a time where everyone was calling out (and producing) online content. We saw our workload increase significantly. It also meant we were able to think a bit more ‘outside the box’ to come up with ways to stay relevant online during this time.”
The Museum brought exhibitions and programs to life online with articles, pictures, videos and games. The Museum moved to a virtual Ocean Talk series, created online tours of exhibitions and brought to life online personalised stories of immigration, experiences and life during wartime.
This time has also meant a shift to working from home for Museum employees. “There were definitely some teething problems as I think everyone had to adjust to working from home while keeping the right people across the right information. But ultimately, I think it helped the process as we were able to focus on what needed to be done and be significantly more productive”, said Ash.
Jeffery Fox, a Conservator at the Museum, agrees that the temporary closure has led to a more productive time for staff on certain aspects. “In some way this has been advantageous as we have had more time to devote [to the] treatment of the [Museum’s physical] objects. The re-opening plan has allowed us to focus on the detailed cleaning of some of our larger objects like the Nelson Figurehead and Ghost Nets. This required working at height and elevated work platforms were required. Normally, we are bound by opening and closing times to do this type of work, but have been able to attend to this work during the day and have been able to attend to more objects within a shorter time frame”, he said.