Cornish history through photography

Museum of Cornish Life, Helston: Photography collection

Traditional user interfaces for collections online can be very dull. With a desire to make collections display engaging and focused around images, rather than just data, we approached collections management system developer Modes to collaborate on a new WordPress plugin. As our first project as part of this research and development, we worked with the photographic collection of Helston Museum in Cornwall.

The outcomes include content being displayed thematically, using large photographs to draw people in. Photographs fill the space available and illuminating captions can be used. Individual records pages can show custom layouts of fields and descriptions and records with location data can be plotted on a map.

Editors can easily add records to editorial pages, directly into WordPress. Clicking the “add item” in WordPress button brings up the Modes object interface. The editor can insert the desired object by reference, title or other metadata, choosing to add new text or to use the Modes-based description. The object is then automatically inserted into the article, to be used to illustrate some interpretation or create an online gallery. Changes to the Modes record will automatically update the live website.

The photographic collection was made available online and also packaged through a custom-made interactive kiosk so visitors to the museum can enjoy the rich collection in the gallery spaces.