My traineeship is within the Norwich Castle: Gateway to Medieval England team. This project, known to its friends as the Keep Project, aims to transform the inside of the castle keep and recreate the interior of the original Norman palace from 1121.
During the summer, my work was split between planning the creation and upkeep of the Instagram account and helping plan aspects of the Keep Giving public fundraising campaign. @norwichcastlekeep launched on Instagram on 15th September and is going from strength to strength. The launch was timed to coincide with the unveiling of the Adopt an Object strand of the Keep Giving. We chose Instagram because its visual focus is ideally suited to promoting Adopt an Object, which includes some of the most impressive and significant objects in the museum’s collection.
Fortunately the page didn’t launch from a standing start, as I was allowed to co-opt the museum’s dormant Instagram account (with around 300 followers), giving us an immediate, interested audience. The page now has over 730 followers, and there has been very high engagement with the posts, in terms of number of ‘likes’, and with comments or questions about the project and the museum’s activities & resources. @norwichcastlekeep is also very popular with the Heritage Lottery Fund on Instagram – the main project funders – who seem very happy that we have a distinct social media presence celebrating the project, its fundraising drive and successes.
There have been few obvious changes yet in the museum as a result of the Keep Project, but Instagram has been an important tool with which to celebrate the events programme which runs alongside it. Photos of this year’s special activities such as ‘Saturday Knight Fever’ and a digital takeover day proved very popular, and are an important way to advertise that the museum is still fully open. In November, I used Instagram to document the de-installation of the Prison Stories gallery in the castle keep, which gained a lot of interest. In the end, it was a vital way of reassuring people that the project work is confined to the castle keep, meaning the museum’s gallery spaces won’t be affected. Spring 2018 sees a temporary exhibition opening to explore the relationship between the castle and the people of Norwich. In this spirit, I organised a competition on Instagram asking people to submit photos and artworks of the castle keep using #MyNorwichCastle, for a chance to win an invitation to the opening of the exhibition in February. Entries took a while to begin, but with some more active promotion, the competition became more visible and entries picked up. It has now closed and the winner will be announced this month.
I’m finding it very rewarding seeing daily increases in followers and interactions, and I’m continuing to improve the content I create. Of course, this is only one aspect of a much broader traineeship, which has taken in everything from collections care to delivering tours and learning activities. I am looking forward to getting involved with even more aspects of the project in 2018, including an assessment of the environmental credentials of the museum and how they can be improved as a result of the Keep Project’s work.