Digging up Memories – Empowering collections at Vindolanda Museum through virtual exhibits

Anneke Susan Hackenbroich, Gillian Taylor, Rhys Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Digital exhibits allow museums to showcase artefacts to the public irrespective of distance, museum closures, and delicacy of the object. Vindolanda Museum developed the Digging up Memories – Making Connections digital exhibition to present wooden artefacts with a focus on maintained narrative of Roman history and emotive responses from museum workers. The exhibition content was developed and co-curated by the Vindolanda Trust team, who picked their favourite wooden objects and discussed their emotional connections to them. The display represents their responses through creative writing, voice recordings, and short film clips, with 3D models of the chosen artefacts embedded for enhancement. Over 10,000 visits were made during the three-month opening, with an average of 1:35 min spent per page. The exhibition was supplemented with 3D prints to allow public handling of accurate replicas within the context of the museum and original artefact on display. Recommendations for future digital exhibitions are provided.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere00267
JournalDigital Applications in Archaeology and Cultural Heritage
Publication statusPublished - 27 Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Digging up Memories was part of the wider wood digitisation project which was funded by the Arts Council England over two years (2020–2022). The concept for the online exhibition “Digging up memories – making connections” was developed during the Covid-19 lockdown (December 2021) while the museum and site remained closed due to UK restrictions. Guidelines for the online exhibition were developed from the Museums Association's strategy paper Empowering Collections ( Museums Association, 2019 ). Empowering Collections is the result of the Collections 2030 project, launched in 2018 by the Museums Association to develop recommendations on how to bring greater democracy to museums' collections. Empowering Collections recommends that democracy could be achieved through co-curation, co-production, and enabling access to collections by all members of museums' staff. The strategy further emphasises the need to go beyond the standard model of putting collections information on websites, and suggests creating and curating online displays and providing interpretation rather than information alone ( Museums Association, 2019 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors


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