Comment History

A Museum of the Streets

A new vision for using technology to tell the history of Clerkenwell and Smithfield

By David Wilcox

David Wilcox
David Wilcox

I’m excited by Sharon Ament’s vision for the new London Museum – and also believe we needn’t wait three years to engage with the extraordinary heritage in the streets of EC1, drawing on the knowledge of residents as well as historians.

Here’s how we can explore what’s possible in Clerkenwell and Smithfield.

In the Echo last year City councillor Mathew Bell proposed re-staging Bartholomew Fair to coincide with Barts 900 celebrations for St Bartholomew the Great and Barts Hospital.

I suggested digital technology could extend the experience by streaming events, and through augmented reality apps.

I hope that a Bartholomew Fair for 2023 might be supported by the Corporation’s new , and a proposed Business Improvement District.

However, we don’t need a Fair to take these ideas forward on the doorstep of the new museum in West Smithfield – and elsewhere.

Back in 2010 the Museum pioneered a as “a bid to put the collections of the museum where they belonged, on the streets of London.”

The app is no longer available, but it is now possible to develop something similar using 360 degree photos with embedded images, video, and hotspots.

Anyone using will value how you can stroll, virtually, down a street and click on hotspots that take you into bars, shops, and restaurants where they have added information and photos to Google maps.

I’m using a 360 camera and virtual tour software to demonstrate possibilities.

I’m also following through another Echo story, by adding additional content to the inspiring Angel to Farringdon walk created by the Living Streets Footways project.

With The Peel I’m exploring how we can use maps and media to help celebrate its 125th anniversary and the radical heritage of Clerkenwell. There was an event on Thursday 9 February to show some demonstrations – get in touch on my email below if you’re interested.

Museums are expert in curating and displaying content from many places and sources, using traditional and new media. City and Islington guides are walking museums of knowledge, and some share that online. I believe we can partner with guides and historians to create our own museums, enhancing our explorations online and on the ground.

Sharon envisages an innovative, open, sociable museum. We can start to realise that vision now, building on ideas first featured in the Echo.

More on my blog or email [email protected]

This article is from the February/March 2023 edition of Ec1 Echo. Click here to download your copy.

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