“Curate the Commons”

Commercial Dock Pier The ship's cats, HMS 'Hawkins'

In February 2012 the National Maritime Museum in London embarked on its second co-curated exhibition since the July 2011 opening of their new Sammy Ofer Wing and the Compass Lounge.

Being an active contributor to The Commons on Flickr, the new space has allowed the Museum’s team to take this participation much further. So in March, it invited members of their active Flickr community to curate a display of historical photographs that are significant to them from the National Maritime Museum’s collection .

NMM Curate the Collection first meeting

Since then 17 Flickr members have gone behind the scenes with Bronwen Colquhoun, a PhD student from Newcastle University, and the Museum’s Digital Participation Officer, Jane Findlay, to explore the Museum’s Commons sets, delve into the historic photograph collection, and meet with Museum staff about developing exhibitions.

Starting from a huge amount of photographs the group worked together to select the final eight images which will soon be exhibited in the Compass Lounge and form a new set on the National Maritime Museum’s Commons account on Flickr. A further hundred digital images will be shown alongside the prints which reflect more closely individual participants’ personal routes of exploration through the collection – these images will also be accompanied by tag clouds to capture the individual responses to the images.

Royal Naval College floodlit for the coronation Camel in Kuwait carrying fuel for cooking

"We’re keen for other Flickr users and visitors to get involved and get inspired by photography by discussing the choices and adding their own tags online. Those interested are invited to follow the Curate the Collection group on Flickr and share their thoughts." says Emma McLean from the National Maritime Museum.

This is just one of Bronwen’s active research projects around how Flickr Commons supports community engagement and making sense of the photographic collections. She’ll be taking this project forward through working with the Washington Library of Congress and Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums to explore their Flickr Commons collections.

Photos from National Maritime Museum and aka Razz. For updates and personal insights into the project, you can follow the participants’ Curate The Collection Blog and the National Maritime Museums’ Collections Blog.

Posted By
Kay Kremerskothen

Kay is a Community Manager for Flickr and passionate about extraordinary photography. As an editor on Flickr Blog he loves to showcase the beauty and diversity of Flickr in his posts. When he's not blogging or making Flickr more awesome (in front of and behind the scenes), you can find him taking pictures with his beloved Nikon and iPhone, listening to Hans Zimmer's music or playing board games. | On Flickr you can find him at https://flic.kr/quicksilver