Wanlockhead Museum represents the local social and industrial history of this once important site of lead mining. The museum consists of an underground mine (open to the public); Straitsteps Cottages, representing miners’ lives in 1750, 1850 and 1910; the Miners’ Library and the Visitor Centre; and the Museum. The library holds 2800 books and is the second oldest subscription library in Europe.
Restrictions due to Covid-19 have had a negative effect on how the Museum can deliver the visitor experience. In May of 2020, Interface joined forces with VisitScotland and the Scottish Tourism Alliance to launch the Adopt a Business scheme; a new initiative aimed at boosting the sector’s recovery from Covid-19 by connecting tourism businesses to university academics and students for research and development projects, helping businesses to diversify and adapt to the new environment.
Wanlockhead Museum were looking to develop an informed digitisation strategy. They have valuable resources in the library which could be more widely shared on a digital platform. Social distancing would be very difficult to undertake on the mine tour, but a virtual tour could widen their audience and increase access for those not physically able to enter the mine; and, with the inclusion of text, could also be accessible to the hearing impaired.
The Trust applied to the Adopt a Business initiative looking for academic support. Mari Findlay, Business Engagement Executive at Interface, put Kathryn Linsell, Trustee, Wanlockhead Museum, in touch with Dr Kirsten Cowan from the University of Edinburgh and Dr Alena Kostyk from the University of Glasgow, who had expressed interest in participating in the Adopt a Business initiative. Intrigued by the Museum’s rich history and everything it had to offer, the academics volunteered to work jointly on the project as there was a good fit between their expertise and the needs of the Museum.
The academics were able to secure funding for the project that included ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council) Impact Acceleration Account funding from the University of Glasgow; allowing them to create and test digital marketing solutions for the Museum as well as being able to purchase the necessary equipment to do this.
In collaboration with filmmakers "Silly Wee Films" from Glasgow, a static scenes VR tour for the Wanlockhead’s Lead mine, Miners’ library, and Miners’ cottages was created.
Audio narrations for these VR scenes were created in collaboration with “The Big Light” podcast company from Glasgow.
A small pre-Christmas Facebook campaign was tested to facilitate donations to the Wanlockhead’s fundraiser, and to build social media following. It generated 18,000+ post engagements, and 1,575 link clicks. Facebook page following went from 2,300 to 2,700 potential visitors during that brief campaign.
The academics are now preparing (January 2021) to launch a Facebook campaign to build a larger social media following for the Museum as well as generating more traction for the fundraiser. They will be testing out several digital campaign designs to find optimal solutions.
A further student marketing project is currently underway with the University of Glasgow.
Drs Cowan and Kostyk have supported the Museum throughout the course of the project and continue to do so.