100 Objects North East ( is a ground-breaking digital archive and interactive website designed and developed by Newcastle’s Indigo Multimedia to capture a history of the creativity and innovation of the North East of England. The project is the brainchild of Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, the regional museum, art gallery and archives service. Launched as part of the Festival of the North East, the 100 Objects project celebrates and encourages debate about what makes the North East special.
Project Co-ordinator for Tyne & Wear Archives and Museums, Emily Allen explains, “We wanted to bring to life museum and gallery collections in order for people to gain a greater understanding of the narrative of North East creativity and innovation. 100 Objects is about enthusing people to passionately discuss, debate and be inspired by collections and so greater explore and value the culture and heritage of the region. We knew this digital archive had the potential to contribute to a positive sense of place and local pride.”
The website features big bold imagery to capture users’ interest, and a simple ‘what’s next’ interface designed to hook visitors in to looking at more (hopefully all 100!) objects. Although text takes a step back from the fore, the copy is engaging and the short, snappy descriptions work well for today’s ‘scan’ style of online reading.
Emily says, “Indigo really understood the brief. They captured the enthusiasm for the stories contained within the objects and placed this as first importance, with the trail feature as secondary, so people would be interested in the first instance by the visual objects themselves rather than a website presented in ‘tourist information style’ on what's happening where. Equally, the visuals matched our thinking about creating a contemporary feel to the project and one that is distinct from anything else on the web. This was important, as we wanted to appeal to a potentially new audience, yet also be very user friendly and intuitive so as to not alienate an older audience.”
The 100 Objects North East have been selected by museum Managers, Curators, Historians, Artists and Archivists from across the region, and many of the objects will be new to visitors. In fact the omission of a number of the most recognizable regional treasures (the Bowes Museum Silver Swan for example) has stirred debate and created additional buzz around ‘what made it to the list’.
Sticky/sharey features are intrinsic to the design. Once they have created an account, the user can create a trail of object locations using the interactive map feature, and save it for future reference. They can also share individual object profiles to their social channels, and tweet instantly from the site using the hash tag link #100objectsne. 
Although designed to encourage browsing, the site incorporates a robust search facility which allows users to search for objects by location, theme, chronology and venue. There are also videos linked to some of the objects, featuring interviews and additional footage of the objects. Rich media such as video is such a key tool for whetting appetites and enhancing the user experience amongst all online users, including the least digitally savvy.
Indigo’s Web Director Andrew Graney says, “The 100 Objects North East website is a good example of how Indigo can help cultural organisations tap into the audience development opportunities of the internet and social media. The biggest drivers for cultural organisations to put digital at their heart are the changing needs of their audiences. The 100 Objects North East project allows a number of museums, galleries and archives to take their collections beyond the limits of their location in an innovative and accessible way, introducing them to new audiences and encouraging deep engagement.”
Emily Allen is pleased with the audience take up so far, “The 100 Objects North East website has attracted thousands of visitors in its first weeks. We've received several positive comments so far already, particularly from participating venues.”
“The website looks fantastic, well done to everyone who pulled this together. Very glad to be part of it.”
“The web site is great lovely and easy to get around.”
“It looks very smart. I like the thematic route too and the fact that people can select their favourites. Well done.”
The project has also been inspiration to create artwork as a response to seeing one of the objects.
The artist in residence for the Festival of the North East, Emma Holliday, produced a painting/sketch at The National Railway Museum at Shildon and wrote, “I had a lovely time walking around drawing and painting, and was pleased to see one of the 100 objects, which was the start of the drawing 'a symbol of friendship’.”
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TAGS : Arts, Cultural Sector, Cultural Website, Engagement, Interactive, Mobile Website, Museums, Public Sector, Social Media


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