The term ‘digitisation’ has recently made its way into many museums and archival institutions across the world. Mass digitisation projects have aimed to digitise entire museum collections―typically scanning paper-based items in flatbed scanners or capturing museum objects with a digital camera―while other projects have been more selective and have included a variety of creative digital mediums. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is seeking to explore select parts of the collection and bring these items to life using digital images, video recordings, audio and augmented reality activities. Some of the digitisation methods we currently use to bring objects to life include:
Copystand with digital SLR camera: This set-up (pictured in Figure 1) is used to capture most 2-D objects in the collection including written documents, photographs and paper-based artworks. Unlike a flatbed scanner which requires documents to touch a glass screen, this method promotes a non-contact way of capturing objects by placing the camera above the item.
Tripod with Digital SLR camera: This set-up (pictured in Figure 2) is used to capture most 3-D objects in the collection including writing cases, cups, bowls and statues.
HP Topshot Scanner: This device recently released by Hewlett-Packard (pictured in Figure 3) is an over-head scanner used to capture small 3D objects in the collection including coins, pens and scissors.
Video Recording: We are currently using video recordings to bring a variety of items in the collection to life. We will be recording videos with local experts who will give their professional insights on objects as well as offer small clips of traditional events around Stratford such as Shakespeare’s Birthday celebrations. Scenes from the plays will also be brought to life through recordings of local actors and actresses.
Audio Recordings: We will be bringing some of our written documents to life through audio recordings. These will include poems, speeches and public addresses.
Augmented Reality Activities: These activities will include seeing a 3D rendering of New Place ―Shakespeare’s last home which is no longer in existence― on your phone as well as scavenger-hunt like games tailored towards small children.
One of the challenges even creative digitisation projects face, however, is that of largely paper-based collections. These collections tend to get repetitive as objects have a sameness about them and are tricky to present digitally in large quantities without losing the viewers attention. We are currently digitising material for Marie Corelli ―a nineteenth-century novelist’s―tour around Stratford which consists of a large amount of paper-based records: manuscripts, written correspondence and black and white photographs similar to that pictured in Figure 4. How may images such as this be brought to life in a digitally creative way? What would you do to make these images more appealing to an audience if you were confronted with many of them? How would you like to access these images yourself? Please comment or get in touch if you have any suggestions!