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Digital Narratives project: Hampshire Cultural Trust

Museum Name

Hampshire Arts and Museums Service, later Hampshire Cultural Trust

Museum Contact

Annabel Cook, Area Manager South East


Collecting 200 stories to celebrate the 200th birthday of the mill

April 2014 - March 2015


At the start of the project the Hampshire Cultural Trust was integrated within the council as the Arts and Museum Service. For the purpose of this case study, they will be referred to as ‘the trust.’ The trust manages over 20 venues including four museum sites in the South East of Hampshire. Each site has a website and there are a number of Facebook and Twitter accounts. The engagement activity across these different channels was sporadic and not joined up. Capacity was also an issue.

Summary of activity

The service applied the Digital Identity framework to develop a narrative about local stories in order to promote the launch of the Bursledon Windmill. The launch was billed as the 200th birthday of the windmill. They used Twitter to find stories about the windmill that were to be published on an official blog. Although they weren’t able to gather a large number of stories, they had a small number of successes. Halfway through the project the trust, which was part of the county council became an independent charity. Under the circumstances, the trust was unable to dedicate sufficient time on the Digital Narratives project.

Strategic development

Be playful on social media

The project has helped the trust identify barriers that prevent it from using social media in an integrated way. This includes an online presence that is fragmented across many different accounts, lack of capacity to manage social channels on a day-to-day basis, technical issues with the website, lack of technical ability and loss of control over key social media accounts. The trust is now taking positives steps to address these barriers. It is also positioning the Bursledon Windmill as a flagship of the trust’s brand.

Culture change within the organisation

The team from the trust is now working with colleagues to change the perception of social media. As there is no immediate revenue attached to managing the different channels, they now use it for audience development. They are also raising the profile of individuals working on social media across the organisation. The Digital Narratives programme has brought clarity as to how the trust’s website can be made fit for purpose.

The major project

Every participating museum was required to develop one major project across the year. The trust wanted to promote the launch of the Bursledon Windmill. At the start of the project they had developed an ambitious plan to identify and work with local residents and businesses to capture their stories of the windmill before the restoration in the 1970s. However, due to the transition of the service into the trust, it was unable to dedicate time and resources to realise these plans.

Key learning

  1. Social media is more than marketing: Social media is a valuable audience development tool and can be used to engage with new and existing audiences through the use of stories.
  2. Online audiences can add value: A global online audience can have a positive impact for a cultural organisation by increasing the size of its digital footprint and raising the profile of the region.
  3. Have fun: Social media offers a cultural organisation to be playful and engage people with unique and unusual insight into the local community.

Further development

  1. Building more capacity by supporting and encouraging all staff to participate in social media activity. This includes managing the different channels and creating content.
  2. Develop a pool of photographs and other material that can be used and reused to share stories about the Bursledon Mill and other sites across the different social media channels.
  3. Recruiting a digital volunteer to assist the trust in managing the different social media channels. This will be done in a gradual, phased basis to ensure the voice and tone of the content is conducive to its mission.
  4. Purchasing smart phones to enable staff to create content in a flexible and real-time manner and continuing to develop their social media presence on new channels.






Improving Museums' Storytelling through Digital Narratives was a 2014-15 South East Museum Development Programme project supported with public funding by Arts Council England. Lead consultant: Abhay Adhikari