Clare Museum launched its new website on International Museum Day on Thursday, 18th May.
Clare Museum’s first website was launched in February 2002 and was hosted on the Clare Library website. At that time, Clare Museum had become the first museum in Ireland to use the online realm as a means to access museum collections. Over time, however, the museum website had become dated and difficult to access by potential users with smartphones.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, museums grew to rely more on online resources to reach an audience and to play a role in supporting the mental health of the communities they served. In 2020, Clare Museum received funding from the Heritage Council’s Community Heritage Grant Scheme to purchase equipment that would help to digitise the collection and to make it available on social media.
In 2022, the time had come to upgrade the museum website as a platform to display the digitised collection to the widest possible audience. The museum received funding from the Heritage Council’s Heritage Stewardship Fund which allowed the museum to develop the website for this purpose.
The concept behind the website was to:
- Allow online access to the museum collection, for items on display in the museum and, in particular, those items in storage..
- Tell stories about the lives of Clare people associated with them.
- Shine a light on the work that the museum does behind the scenes to care for and to manage the collections.
According to Curator John Rattigan, “the new website is very much an extension of the physical space where we display items in the building. Physical exhibitions are very much a method of providing access that dates to the 18th century. However, using the internet we are free of the physical restrictions of the building, and we can provide access to items that are in storage as well as those that are on display from the comfort of one’s home, office, school or university.”
The website is an excellent tool for social inclusion. It will be relevant to anyone with a smartphone. The website will be accessible to anyone in Clare, and to Clare people anywhere in the world, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all year round.
During the design stage, the design company consulted the public to find out what the public expected from a museum website. This research indicated to us that the public expected to find out information about artefacts and stories about them, something the new website addresses in its ‘Explore’ and ‘Stories’ sections. Visitor surveys carried out by the museum also indicate the importance of a strong online presence to encourage visits to the museum. As an important marketing tool, information about the museum’s opening hours and other visitor information is also included for the public.
The website will be updated regularly and can be accessed at: www.claremuseum.ie
Source: Clare County Council