The pandemic closes the Heritage Centre IRL, so it opens on linePrint
The Heritage Centre Manager, Rachel Mensforth, writes about moving the Centre experience on line.
As physical access to cultural facilities waned with the progression of COVID-19, heritage centres, museums and galleries began considering how to remain connected to their audiences in uncertain times.
In many instances, as with the Sisters of Charity Heritage Centre, the focus was on serving communities in meaningful ways and proactively engaging remote audiences with relevant content.
The challenge that we faced at the Heritage Centre was that now, more than ever, it is imperative to continue to communicate the history and mission of the Sisters of Charity and support the stakeholders and audiences already invested in the Centre’s mission and message.
Aside from the timely applications, Allison O’Sullivan, the Engagement, Learning and Program Developer, and I recommended to the Congregational Leader & Council that an on-line experience is a significant investment in the future direction of the Heritage Centre, particularly as a safeguard against further shutdowns, both in NSW and across the borders.
In response to changing circumstances and the need to reach remote audiences, the CL&C approved our submission, and the Sisters of Charity Heritage Centre and Archives launched a new website on Monday, September 7 (with a preview to the Congregation in the days prior).
The launch framework included virtual tours and an introduction to the inception and vision for the space. The new platform is currently located within the Sisters of Charity site, accessible via the Heritage Centre drop down.
The cornerstone of the site is a selection of digital exhibitions, providing an on-line excursion experience for teachers and students. Virtual tours are integral to classrooms in the era of COVID-19 and have long-term applications in support of remote audiences as well as, time poor or under resourced schools unable to coordinate physical excursions.
These tours provide a practical support for History, English, PDHPE and Religious Studies and as of Monday, October 19, was married to downloadable curriculum linked lesson material.
Similarly, the exhibitions will serve as valuable tools for mission formation and mission development with this content earmarked for completion towards the end of the year. The Fourth Vow content from the exhibition is also available on the site; repurposed for computers and handheld devices, it is now accessible to a broader audience.
Since the launch, Allison and I have worked through an evaluation period, collating feedback, and planning improvements. This is a multifaceted process, incorporating the site content, the video content and even includes minute details about text font, image resolution and placement of watermarks. Recommendations for the next phase of content were recently submitted to the CL&C with a specific focus on engaging the Sisters.