4th July 2011
Official Opening of the iMuseum
On Monday 4th July 2011, Manx National Heritage marked the official opening of the iMuseum, a new digital research facility which provides unprecedented access to Manx National Heritage collections. In a special ceremony performed by the Chief Minister, the Hon J A Brown MHK and Martin Moore Chairman of Manx National Heritage, the outstanding new research facility was officially declared open.
The opening ceremony was attended by special guests from the local business community, those involved in the capital project, and some of the many volunteers who have supported the development which is the most significant project ever undertaken on the Manx national archives and the largest project of its type ever attempted on the Island.
Performing the official opening, Chief Minister, the Hon J A Brown said:
“The iMuseum encapsulates over 150 years of knowledge from the Manx National Collections, offering users the ability to browse our national archives ranging from Isle of Man Newspapers from 1792 to 1960 to photographs of the Island, film and audio resources including some of the great Manx speakers from years gone by”.
Edmund Southworth, Director of Manx National Heritage explained the new development:
“When Tynwald established the Museum and Ancient Monument Trustees on the Island 125 years ago it was in the expectation that they would both protect and promote the material culture of the Isle of Man's community. This first manifested itself in buildings, carved crosses, and archaeological remains. Later books, documents and works of art were added to the increasing national collections. As time passed, the collections looked after by the Trustees on behalf of the people of the Island have grown in scale and significance. They now include the houses, clothes, papers, photographs and the very voices of our ancestors.
Items enter our collections because they have value and significance. They record a way of life and special events. They hold memories, tell stories and have an association beyond their intrinsic worth.
I am delighted that this morning we have two additions to our collection in the form of a Manx pennant and flag which were flown on the last mission of Space Shuttle Discovery in February 2011 and presented to Manx National Heritage by NASA astronaut Nicole Stott and her colleagues from the Discovery Shuttle crew. They are relatively small items but have travelled a long way to get here.
Nicole is no stranger to Manx National Heritage having participated in a live link from the Manx Museum to the International Space Station in October 2009.
So what happens when a memory like this is created and a story written using a real object given to us? The advent of the digital age has meant that we have new ways of holding the memories and telling the stories alongside the library and galleries in the museum. These new abilities bring new audiences, new expectations and new demands on us. In an ever changing world people more than ever are searching for their family roots and the language and culture of the land of their ancestors.
Accordingly the Trustees of Manx National Heritage have developed a Manx Ancestry Centre which brings together all the various strands of this Island’s heritage in a new way. We call it the iMuseum to reflect the digital nature of the information.
The opening of the iMuseum building today marks an important milestone in its development but only the start of the journey. It is a journey which so far has involved bricks and mortar, microfilm and scanners, computer hardware and software, and above all people.
Manx National Heritage's future journey will take us further down the digital road and we will increasingly link the physical world of our historic buildings, museum objects and natural landscapes with the virtual world – not just in the iMuseum but online worldwide”.
Situated on Kingswood Grove in Douglas, the digital museum quietly opened its doors to the public in March this year. The facility brings together a selection of archives, library and museum collections into one digital resource, and the content will grow significantly over the coming months and years as more of the national collections are digitised.
Online access to the facility will be available to the world in Spring 2012 and will include a simple subscription facility for the Manx Newspapers (1792 – 1960) searchable at the click of a button.
The iMuseum project has been supported by the people of the Isle of Man, Tynwald, the Trustees of Manx National Heritage, the Family History Society, The Friends of Manx National Heritage and many others including:
• Taxpayers through Tynwald for the development of the iMuseum building, which is now available for use by the public.
• The Trustees of Manx National Heritage Charitable Funds which were used to develop the digital newspaper archive.
• The Friends of Manx National Heritage who not only also made a financial contribution but have supplied thousands of hours of volunteer time.
• The Isle of Man Family History Society and the War Memorials Committee who made available many years of accumulated work.
• Island-based contractors McArds delivered the building work on time and within budget.
• American software house Olive who are responsible for the newspapers working alongside the Government’s Information Services Department and PDMS on the Island.
To view the official opening interviews, please visit http://www.manxtube.com/video/3388/iMuseum-offical-opening