Guest Post By Lori Byrd Phillips, Wikipedian-in-Residence
…A lot, actually!
You first heard from me in December, where I explained my role as Wikipedian-in-Residence at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. My job is to collaborate with Wikipedia in order to share the museum’s resources with a large, online audience. In the past months we’ve been busy doing just that!
One of my primary tasks has been to coordinate a donation of images from the museum to Wikimedia Commons. For our first donation I worked closely with the curators to choose images of objects from the American, Cultural World, and Natural Science collections. You can see the category with these images here. They are now being used in articles across Wikipedia!
In addition to sharing images, it has been important that the museum also share its research with Wikipedia. We did this by working with the Museum Apprentice Program students to research iconic Children’s Museum objects and create new Wikipedia articles about them. This may sound like a tough job – and it was! Over the course of two months, the MAPs worked in teams to research their objects and learn how to edit Wikipedia. In the end, five new articles were created and 33 middle and high school students gained a new appreciation for Wikipedia. Thanks to the MAPs hard work, now people from all around the world can learn about the museum's Chihuly sculpture Fireworks of Glass, the Reuben Wells, Bucky the Teenage T.rex, the water clock, and Captain Kidd’s cannon, without even coming inside the museum! On top of that, the article for the Reuben Wells locomotive was featured on the main page of Wikipedia and received 5,500 views within two days!
The Children’s Museum Carousel received some special attention in Wikipedia as well. Since January, a Wikipedian has been volunteering to help update the Broad Ripple Park Carousel’s Wikipedia article in the hopes of it becoming a Featured Article. Featured Articles undergo an intense review process and account for only .1% of all of the articles in Wikipedia. With the help of our Wikipedia volunteer and the Children’s Museum’s curators, the Carousel article is now an impressive history of one of the museum’s most iconic objects. Check out the article – I guarantee you’ll learn something new!
This new depth of information in the Carousel article prompted our Director of Web and Emerging Media to want to link the Children’s Museum’s webpage back to Wikipedia. But the biggest and the best Children’s Museum couldn’t do that with some boring little link, so we asked our friends in the Wikipedia community to create a Widget that will boldly share an object’s Wikipedia article on our website. Within days, a new Wikipedia Widget tool was created and you can now see it in use on the Museum History, Carousel, and All Aboard!, webpages.
These are only some of the ways that museums all over the world are beginning to share their research and content with Wikipedia. Since I started here about seven months ago, our Australian friend Liam (who visited the Children’s Museum back in November) has continued to travel the globe to help museums learn how to work with Wikipedia, a network of GLAM Ambassadors is beginning to be created, and more Wikipedians-in-Residence are beginning work in places like the Palace of Versailles in France and soon at the National Archives in Washington DC. It’s definitely an exciting time to be a Wikipedian in a museum!