The coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe is unprecedented in modern times. We are still waiting to see how it develops and the response and solutions from governments, but in the meantime businesses around the world are closed.
For heritage organisations, often one of the main draws for tourists to a new city or country, the loss of visitors will have an immediate impact and a longer-term effect that we can’t fully imagine yet.
But although people aren’t coming through the doors, sites can still share the wonders of the past – social media and multimedia websites makes it much easier than ever before to let people see your collections. Here are just five ideas for content you can create to help promote your venue during lockdown.
1. Behind the Scenes Tours
If you’ve still got access to your museum or gallery, show people online things that visitors don’t usually get to see. You can make short videos to share across most social media platforms, and do a running commentary, or take photos to illustrate a blog or include to enhance an audio file.
If you can’t get into a building, perhaps you can get into the grounds. The gardens of stately homes are usually spectacular, and you could talk about how you maintain the land, and contrast with upkeep methods from the past.
If you can’t access anything, think about producing a ‘day in the life’ series. Interview colleagues, either over Skype or by emailing them a set of questions, and get them to talk about their job role. Speak to curators, gallery assistants, the welcome desk and the people who work in the gift shop. A human element always go down well.
2. Interview Experts
This can be in video, audio or written format. Ask the curators about their area of expertise, their background and what led them to a career in history. Ask them to choose a favourite artefact from a collection, and get them to explain why. Encourage them to talk about the wider historical context of whatever it is.
If you have visiting exhibitions, speak to the curator and organisers of those for their perspective. If you show contemporary artwork, interview the artist about what inspired them – they’ll be delighted to get some publicity!
As many schools are closing at the moment, anyone who can create activities or share stories with children should also be interviewed or given an opportunity to create some engaging, interactive content. Frazzled parents and carers will be pleased to have something to occupy them with.
3. Blogs About Artefacts
Museums, galleries and heritage sites are rich in artefacts they can create content about. No matter what your focus, there’s plenty for you to talk about and share with the wider world. Dig into the archives, look in the special collections or anything in the back room, and pick key pieces from the permanent exhibitions. You’ve probably already got plenty of photos you can use to illustrate blog posts.
Talk about the work of an artist, the circles he moved in and his patrons; discuss the political and religious situation that led to a war where a sword was used; explain how a humble home appliance revolutionised life for housewives. The possibilities are endless.
4. Stories from the Local Area
If you manage a stately home or castle, you should have access to records about the family who lived there, the troops stationed in barracks, and the servants who worked for the family.
Again, this is a great way to share the personal stories of your heritage site. Share photographs, portraits and plans of the building. Talk about the significance of building a fort on a hill above a river, why families might have had a secret passage or the importance of a private chapel.
Talk about what life was like for the residents of the town or city, too. What was everyday life like for them? What work did they do, what did they eat, and how much contact did they have with the inhabitants of your property? If you’re a museum or gallery, you can use items from the collection to build up a picture of a period in time.
5. Share Old-Fashioned Entertainment Ideas
Can you talk about how people amused themselves in the past? As cinemas and theatres close, people will be looking for ideas to entertain themselves and their families at home. What sorts of games did children play? What about parlour games? Did guests at your stately home indulge in playing sardines, charades or something more unusual? Can you share card games that were popular a century ago?
Bonus Idea: User-Generated Content
One of the best ways to have more content to share on your social media platforms is by getting other people to create it. Ask people who’ve visited your site to share photographs or talk about which artefact they like. People love to see their stuff promoted by you, and they’ll share and retweet to their followers.
Ask people to contribute family tales that you can curate into stories from the local area, and get them involved by suggesting games to play. You may even be able to get some online, interactive games going. And don’t forget to tag or mention other museums and venues too, because they might have some great ideas to share.
Have you come up with a good idea for creating content for your heritage site? I’d love to know what it is!