I am…(a brief bio)

Looking for the perfect pebble at Mount Edgecombe

Research Interests

I am studying a PhD in improving access to cultural heritage using the Web. I am based at the University of Southampton’s Web Science Doctoral Training Centre and the Archaeological Computing Research Group.

I am interested in open data, particularly how this can be used by museums and for public archaeology projects. I teach workshops on social media and also open data use for researchers. I am currently a CHASE Going Digital Scholar. I deliver a Lifelong Learning module on Urban Archaeology.

I am a co-Director of the Basing House Project and the Re-Reading the British Memorial Project, and am working on various projects examining the potential use of low cost technologies for community archaeology and history. See my LinkedIn profile for more details.

I have worked in the past for local government museums, as an Assistant Curator and also in education, in digital media, and in outreach. I now work as a consultant for local authorities. I also have a background in eLearning for Higher Education institutions. I have a degree in History of Art, a Masters in Archaeological Computing and a Masters in Web Science. I teach and publish on all of the above topics whenever possible. I blog at The Cultural Heritage Web, and tweet as @nicoleebeale.

Recent Qualifications

In no particular order…

Doing some (ahem…) research at the Manuscript Museum in Avranches

Currently studying a PhD at the University of Southampton (research topic: The implications of the Web on Professional Practice in the Cultural Heritage Sector)

MSc Web Science

MSc Archaeological Computing – Virtual Pasts

Cultural Heritage NVQ Level 5, Unit G3 – Promoting the care, use and understanding of cultural heritage, as part of AMA qualification – also run AMA Support Group for Hampshire, Surrey and Sussex

PgCert in Learner Support and Administration

BA (Hons) History of Art

Thesis Abstract


This thesis examines the potential for collections held by local authority museums in the UK for audience development and engagement in light of theoretical advances which have arisen out of the increased uptake of the social aspects of the web. Using the major case studies of two groups of local government managed museums in the UK, the Hampshire Solent Cultural Trust and the York Museums Trust, the thesis examines how the changes in society brought about through the web can contribute to audiences’ experiences of collections under the care of local authority museums. This thesis argues that local government museums are ideal partners to the social web, and can drive developments in collaborate knowledge production and sharing. Until recently, cultural heritage institutions such as museums have held the monopoly on content discovery for the history of humanity and the environment.

The rapid development of the web as an organic and Universalist distributed network has resulted in digital content that is disparate and of varying usefulness. However, the connectedness of the web is resulting in the quality and quantity of information about our heritage online improving rapidly, and new modes for accessing and structuring content means that there are a variety of online platforms and sites that threaten the monopoly of museums as custodians of the heritage of humanity. The social web simultaneously presents both challenges and opportunities for local government run museums in the UK, particularly with the empowerment of audiences. This thesis examines current practice in local government museums to engaging with the web and proposes new approaches to incorporating the social aspects of the web into curatorial practice for museums managed by local authorities.

Still want to know more?

Visit my LinkedIn or academia.edu pages for more research information.  Or go to my about.me site to find more links to online activities.

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