Maine Memory Network, Successful Collaboration and Outreach – 12 Years and counting


Kathy Amoroso, Maine Historical Society, USA

For those institutions thinking of or currently developing an online museum that involves other cultural organizations around their state, this demonstration will show how one project has been successful in doing just that over the past 12 years. Maine Historical Society’s experience developing Maine Memory Network (www.mainememory.net) over the past decade has demonstrated the vital role that museums and libraries can play in our quickly changing world. Launched in 2001, MMN is a statewide digital museum that empowers communities to share their history. MMN began as an online digital archive whose primary goal was to expand access to historical collections across the state. It has continued to evolve, and has since become an exceptionally robust online museum and platform for a wide range of historical interests and activity. MMN’s most remarkable characteristic is the degree of autonomy it gives historical societies, libraries, museums, and soon individual contributors in sharing their collections. MHS provides training, support, encouragement, and the technological infrastructure. “Contributing Partners” (CPs) choose what material to share and then do all work locally. It now offers access to more than 40,000 historical items (including photographs, transcribed letters, documents, artifacts, maps, broadsides, samplers, paintings) contributed by over 270 organizations across Maine, hundreds of online exhibits, websites built by community teams, educational resources, and much more. The model recognizes and values the knowledge and expertise of our local partners, and empowers them to participate and be represented in Maine history in previously unimagined ways. We will demonstrate how to search and explore online items, and how contributors upload, catalog and manage their collections. Anyone working on or interested in setting up a collaborative cultural website will be interested to discuss the possibilities with the Director of Digital Engagement from MHS.

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