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New Technology for Tom Brown’s School Museum

Museum Name

Tom Brown's School Museum

Museum Contact

Sharon Smith, Curator

Title of Project

New Technology for Tom Brown's School Museum




Dates from January-April 2014

What was the Project aim(s)?

  • Secure the viability of the museum (and our accreditation status) by updating both the hardware and software used to maintain our archive database and prepare our presentation material.
  • Expand our use of technology (e.g. additional video displays, website content, etc) in order to

- Achieve more effective interpretation of our collection and generally enhance the visitor experience
-Circumvent the space limitations which currently limit the accessibility of our collection
-Increase the attraction and interpretation of our collection for younger visitors, particularly the local primary school with which we have strong connections.

  • Support our volunteers by providing training relevant to use of the new technology adopted.

What was the impact of the project?

Volunteers have been trained on the new Modes Complete package and have learnt new skills in using presentation software.

 The new internet connection to the web at the museum will help with research and the visitor experience.  Having all the computers linked will enable coordinate of work between machines.         

The 2014 season commences at Easter and we expect that our visitors will start to benefit from a more effective interpretation of our collection.

  The new technology will secure our museum’s archive and our ability to produce new presentation material for the next decade.


What went well and what didn’t go well?

The project was completed on time and to budget. Our three computers are now all networked, have internet access and are running the same operating system. We are operating with the latest version of MODES and with much improved backup facilities.

  We had hoped to work with University students in the preparation of a ‘Welcome Presentation’ in time for our re-opening at Easter but the timings did not suit the university timetable, consequently we have had to undertake this presentation ourselves.

The data migration from MODES for Windows to MODES Complete has highlighted some historical data input anomalies which we need to address.

The connection of the phone line and broadband by BT took much longer than originally expected and this impacted network setup and related tasks.

The MODES training was excellent and we were excited by the potential offered. Further training may be undertaken.

The advice from Oxford ASPIRE and the Ashmolean Museum IT Department was very beneficial.

The MODES training was attended by 4 members of the Museum Friends. A report was given at the AGM.

What are your plans for the future?

We have more members of the museum who are willing to work on the new MODES Complete software. This should help us complete our objective of providing web access to some of our archive material.

We have learnT new skills in preparing our own Visitor Presentation.

The new touch-screen has opened up new ways of presenting our material to the public -

This year our exhibition is ‘Remembering 1914’ which recalls the men from this area who served in World War 1.  Using a 1912 Ordnance Survey map of the village, together with the 1911 Census, we are able to plot where the men from the village who served in the First World War lived.  By pressing a ‘poppy’ on the touch screen linked to a building, further screens will reveal 1911 census information for the family living in that house, photographs and a the war service record.

In future, this can be extended to link all the houses in the village to the 1911 census information together with appropriate photographs.  It could also be extended to the 1901 census information.

The quality and technology of our two new touch screen monitors has highlighted the limitations of an existing screen purchased some 10 years ago. We will now work towards its replacement.

We have identified a need for a ‘brand image’ which can be used across Modes, the Web, our Presentations, letterhead, etc.  We may need professional help for this.

Overall Cost of Project