The aim of my project was to create a platform where stories about cultural heritage conservation can be shared to the wider public. I wanted to incorporate all aspects of conservation such as the documentation, storage, object background and the repair process. Mostly I want to aim this at family heirlooms but also other experiences that I come across as a conservation student. I want people to think about the culture around them, in their local community, town, their family and to appreciate what they have. With the ultimate aim being that individual heritage is respected between people and groups.
We often tear each other down for our differences, this happens on an individual level but also on a national level as displayed through racism. I feel that if we could understand each other’s stories we would realize we are not that different and help to build each other up. Museums are a great place to go to learn about the past however as a platform they don’t reach everyone. Digital media such as websites and social media, I feel has a much larger outreach potential to those people who do frequent museums and galleries as well as those that do not.
By creating a website with a blog linked to the social media platform Instagram I would be able to communicate short snippets of cultural information as well as longer in depth blog pieces about cultural heritage and conservation. Types of blogs I think would work well are the conservation of different family heirlooms and then reincorporating that into the home so that inherited items are no longer put in a cupboard but brought out as part of the everyday. While some people proudly display inherited items, others don’t know what to do with them. They don’t know their history, how to care for an object or its significance other then in belonged to Grandma X and therefore must stay in the family.
Overall my project has gone pretty well, it is an on going project that will build momentum through more engagement and content. I found it difficult to create daily content for Instagram but I am sure its something I have to get use to and that will come easier with practice. My overall aim was communicating through Instgram better then my website as I was able to put up many images about different aspects of heritage where as the website so far only introduces cultural heritage conservation.
I also have never built a website before so that was something I had to learn from scratch. From finding a server and host, to making the website look professional. It was a lot more time consuming then I originally intended. One thing I would like to do that I did not is to combine the landing page and home page article making that the new home and landing page however I am not sure how to do that.
I download Insta-track and Jetpack so I can monitor engagement, followers, visitors user interaction on both Instagram and the website. I think this will be more useful as time goes on and I will be able to see what content works and what doe not work. I certainly think I executed my plan and produced a good project in the end so I am happy with the overall result. My first blog is a little dry however with the sound of a typical university assignment and not so much a casual blog. I need to work on finding my voice as a blogger and communicating my content in a more casual and friendly manner.
One of the comments I received back on my project proposal was the development of my idea, which had not been communicated effectively. I definitely struggled with honing in on what my specific idea was as I had so many ideas that I wanted to incorporate altogether. I think this is more of a morphing project that is going to evolve, as I get deeper into creating content, seeing what works and how to communicate with my audience. Often ideas start out as one thing and as you work on them they become another. I think this is how I will find my specific niche by just trialling different ideas and coming to a natural rhythm in the content I put out.
Originally I aimed to post content on Instagram everyday. The Instagram audience thrives on regular posts to build an audience and to keep that audience engaged. I managed to post half the time of what I intended. My first post was delayed as I wanted my website to be up and running however that took much longer then I anticipated so in the end I has just had to start posting. Secondly I found posting everyday rather exhausting, finding a photo, thinking of a caption, appropriate hashtags and then engaging with an audience – writing comments, liking posts etc. This will come easier and a little more natural with time and the more experience I gain. Ultimately sitting down, pre-planning images with written captions and hasthtags will also make this process easier. I planned all my images but often found I didn’t have time to research and write a meaningful caption so the images I planned were left un-posted.
I also aimed to upload two blog posts to my website which again I achieved 50% of. Writing the blog was not too difficult but I couldn’t launch my first blog with out a fully functioning website and this took time as I do not have any previous website building experience. Going forward the website is up and running so posting a monthly blog should be well within reach. I think after I build momentum creating a monthly post I can then look into creating two posts a month and so on depending where the project goes in the future.
The website, blog and Instagram interaction can be extended indefinitely with content and engagement being put out on a regular basis. I have a number of blog ideas that I still want to put out including the conservation of some ambrotype photographs and how they have been reframed for a modern home.
I would also like to connect with some local museums and create some behind the scenes content. Or create a virtual gallery on my website that users can explore. Plus once an audience picks up suggestions on specific concerns someone may have to an inherited item and how they could incorporate that inherited item into their modern home or how to care for it.
I look forward to evolving my website and finding my voice on this platform. You can check out my website at www.elucidatingconservation.com and follow me on Instagram @elucidatingconservation. (You will need an Instagram account to view the IG posts)