Building a Heritage Network, 2013

On 29 October 2013, 55 invited delegates attended the Building a Heritage Network conference The conference was jointly hosted by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar's heritage team as part of the Lews Castle Museum & Archive HLF project and Tasglann nan Eilean Siar.  The purpose of the conference was to learn more about museum, archive and heritage networks that already exist in the UK and to discuss the wants a desires of a potential heritage network in the Outer Hebrides.  An overview of the main speakers papers and their powerpoint slides are presented below.

Joanne Orr – Museums Galleries Scotland

Joanne discussed the strategic development of museums and galleries in Scotland and the importance of the Lews Castle project and wider heritage network in an international context.  As an expert in intangible cultural heritage, she discussed her work with UNESCO with particular reference to intangible heritage as demonstrated in the Outer Hebrides through its Gaelic culture of song, language, folklore and music.  She discussed several upcoming funding streams that may be of interest and examples of networks within Scotland that had been supported by MGS.

She finished by mentioning that the HLF project around the Lews Castle museum and archive is a really opportunity for the whole islands.  She talks about the project as an example at conferences around the world and its importance – the spotlight is on the islands!


Steve Capes - Cambridgeshire Community Archives Network

Steve discussed the development of the Cambridgeshire Community Archives Network of 32 digital archives around the county area, initially funded by HLF.  Many of these archives were started from scratch within villages and communities alongside a number of established history groups.  Additional groups were subject or topic based, including a hospital and a department store.  Through future planning and considering sustainability early on, the network has become self-sustaining at low cost for the individual groups.  A steering group and forum oversees the network and groups support one another through training and peer support.  The group is now in a position to build for funding for specific projects, e.g. 1914-1918 World War and its scalability allows new groups to join.



Simon Floyd - SHARE Museums East

SHARE Museums East is a development agency covering 6 counties.  It facilitates and supports the museum sector, supporting a number of networks and training opportunities across partner museums   Three guiding principles govern the networks:  that everyone must benefit; that all contributions are freely and willingly given and equally valued; and that it is peer-to-peer where possible and not expert dictating how something should be done.  The active organisation facilitates over 60 training sessions and year and supports network events where members learn from one another. 



Tristan ap Rheinhallt - Hebridean Connections

Tristan gave an overview of the development of the Hebridean Connection project that was developed by a consortium of Historical Societies in the Western Isles to digitise and link information from the partner groups through a single website.  Its second phase is now underway, bringing in new partners.  Tristan discussed the networking opportunities that the project offered, the skills being shared and discussed its successes and some of the challenges faced.


A Vision for a Heritage Network - Rachel Hunter

Before the afternoon discussion sessions on what an Outer Hebrides Heritage Network may look like and what it may do, Rachel Hunter gave a reminder on what had been put forward as part of the Lews Castle Museum & Archive HLF bid.




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