Understanding your data

Understanding your data

28 November, 2023 @ 10:30 am 12:00 pm

This workshop will look at how to access your social media analytics, how to report them to High Life Highland and how your museum can use this information to further develop your social media strategies.

HighLife Highland’s Service Level Agreement with Highland Museums requires quarterly reporting on all online ‘hits’. In recent years this has caused both confusion and inaccurate reporting. This workshop has been specifically designed to clarify what information is being requested and to help museums gain the skills to accurately report on their online data. It will also explore the benefits of conducting such audits in terms of building social media strategies and campaigns to help streamline your work in this area.

Training will be delivered by Siobhan Beatson (Manager/Curator at Ullapool Museum and MHH board member ) and Joe Derry Setch (Marketing and Communications Officer at MGS and MHH board member)




View Organizer Website


United States

Six museums from across the Highlands and Islands launch new experiences on Smartify!

Six museums from across the Highlands and Islands launch new experiences on Smartify!

From uncovering Cromarty’s historic links to the Transatlantic slave trade to following a blue plaque walking tour revealing the individuals that made Stromness the town it is today, an incredible range of unique Highland history is now available worldwide.

Made possible thanks to a unique partnership between XpoNorth Digital, Highlands and Islands Enterprise’s specialist digital support programme for the creative and heritage sectors, and Smartify, the world’s most downloaded museum app, six Highland museums are now live on the global stage.

They are Inverness Museum and Art Gallery; Gairloch Museum; Highlanders’ Museum; Cromarty Courthouse Museum; Clyne Heritage Society (Brora Heritage Centre), and Stromness Museum, Orkney.

Selected earlier this year to take part in the initiative, the chosen six have been busy preparing to digitise either parts of their collection or unique experiences since then. The process has transformed their ability to use digital tools and is also expected to result in employment opportunities and increased income generation in the future.

Now, after six months and an incredible effort from local teams and partners, audiences around the world can access the treasure trove of their offering through the Smartify app, and engage with archives, artifacts, tours and memories from across Scotland’s north.

These include the opportunity to explore Cromarty Courthouse Museum’s Building on Slavery walking tour, with the help of an audio guide that takes visitors around Cromarty and uncovers the town’s historic links to the Transatlantic slave trade, featuring authors David Alston and Nicole Bontemps. Visit Cromarty Courthouse Museum on Smartify here.

Those interested in tracing the lives of the individuals and stories that defined the town of Stromness will be able to enjoy Stromness Museum’s ‘Blue Plaque’ walking tour, following it to discover local buildings and the people who lived in them. Surgeon John Rae, for example, is put under the spotlight as a prolific explorer who navigated the Arctic in the 1800s, while poet and dramatist George Mackay Brown is featured as an eminent writer whose work was distinctly Orcadian in character.

Gareth Squire, Administrator at Stromness Museum said: “The opportunity to bring the stories associated with our collections to a worldwide audience and the ability for Smartify users to enrich their visit using the app, will help raise the Museum’s profile as a ‘must visit’ destination in the Highlands and Islands. The unique ability to engage with our audience with the Blue Plaque Trail through Stromness, which links directly to our collections, is a further positive benefit to our integration with the app and it is hoped this will further increase our visitor numbers and profile”. Visit Stromness Museum on Smartify here.

Meanwhile, the Highlanders’ Museum has shone a light on their collection’s little discussed colonial past by producing a ‘Hidden Histories’ audio guide. Freya Samuel, Digital Engagement Curator at the Highlanders’ Museum, said: “For small, independent museums, physical space can be a limitation which impacts the stories that we are able to tell. Smartify lets us share extra content in a really seamless and accessible way, and it’s also easy to create and share new content, that encourages our visitors to come back again and again. Highland history is now being showcased alongside a world-class selection of museums, and is given an equal presence on the platform. The app really champions small museums and values the stories they have to tell, and we’re excited about sharing our heritage with the world.” Visit The Highlanders’ Museum on Smartify here.

Visitors can also use an audio guide to delve into the eclectic local collection at Brora Heritage Centre, which has showcased their highlights ranging from mining tools and medals to ice skates and bricks. Visit Brora Heritage Centre on Smartify here.

Gairloch Museum has produced a series of ten mini videos that will be showcased on the Smartify platform and shared on social media, that tell the story of the local landscape and its connection to the museum. Visit Gairloch Museum on Smartify here.

An unmissable experience has also been created by Inverness Museum and Art Gallery, who have developed an audio tour to guide visitors around the star objects of the collection including ‘rondello’, a round fiddle invented by Highland-born musician Alexander Grant. Visit Inverness Museum and Art Gallery on Smartify here.

Nicola Henderson, Digital Heritage Specialist at XpoNorth Digital, added: “Months of hard work on the part of the six museums involved has culminated in a milestone moment as the museums’ offerings go live. This partnership with Smartify is not only an example of XpoNorth Digital’s commitment to facilitating innovative ways of working for creative organisations in the region, but also demonstrates the huge potential of digital methods, in terms of both amplifying the area’s history around the globe but also forming networks closer to home. Smartify will help the region’s museums to unravel further layers of the stories held within their collections and give them a newfound appeal to audiences both new and old.”

Thanos Kokkiniotis, Director and Co-Founder of Smartify said: “We are delighted to be working with XpoNorth Digital and the museums on this important and ground-breaking project. One of the reasons we started Smartify was to make the kinds of digital tools that were once previously only available to the very biggest institutions accessible for all. It’s great to see that happening here in Scotland with organisations that are so passionate about Scottish heritage and culture.”

Smartify is available on iOS and Android from the App Store and Google Play respectively. It’s also available on the web via app.smartify.org. For more information on XpoNorth Digital’s work to support creative businesses in the Highlands and Islands, visit www.xponorth.co.uk.

Opportunity for museums to experiment with Smartify!

Jim Dunn photographing a gansey from Wick Heritage Centre

XpoNorth reveals groundbreaking partnership with Smartify to give global reach to Highlands and Islands museums

Museums in the Highlands and Islands will be given a unique opportunity to showcase their incredible collections on the global stage, as XpoNorth Digital announces a groundbreaking partnership with Smartify.

This transformative opportunity will give five museums in the region the chance to feature on the world’s most downloaded museum app and tell their story to audiences all over the planet, with support from a digital content creator to help them pull together the content they need.

As part of the project, each museum will have their venue listed on the Smartify platform, which enables cultural attractions of any size to offer a slick, accessible smartphone-led experience to every visitor. Their collection, which can range from 10s to 100s of objects, will be digitised and uploaded, along with a five minute curated video telling their story, a multi-media tour, the opportunity to create an e-shop and all the data and support needed to ensure they get the most from the opportunity.

XpoNorth Digital, Highlands and Islands Enterprise’s mechanisms for specialist digital support for creative and heritage networks based across the Highlands and Islands, believes the partnership is a revolutionary one that has the power to elevate the global status of regional museums exponentially.

Nicola Henderson, XpoNorth Specialist Advisor for Heritage said: “Smartify has over three million users across the world. That’s three million people who love museums; who love history, who love art. Helping Highland museums to get on the platform and tell their stories to a targeted audience of this size could be transformational.

“The Smartify platform gives museums the tools they need to build new experiences within their buildings for their physical visitors, while also helping them to reach out to new audiences. It will help to drive engagement with their collections and stories, while offering opportunities to generate revenue from a global audience. I’m really excited to work with museums of all sizes from anywhere in the Highlands or Islands to explore what this partnership could mean for their organisation.”

Christopher Bazley, Smartify’s Head of Global Partnerships said: “Smartify’s commitment to making world-class digital engagement affordable and accessible to as many museums as possible is part of our DNA. As part of our ongoing commitment to supporting the Highlands and Islands and its globally significant cultural heritage, we are delighted, honoured and excited to have the opportunity of working with XpoNorth on this important project.”

This opportunity is open to any museum based in the Highlands and Islands and participants will be selected through an open application process delivered in collaboration with XpoNorth, Smartify and stakeholder networks.

XpoNorth will be running two dedicated online information sessions in partnership with Smartify to allow museums to gain more information on the opportunity and ask any questions ahead of making an application. These will take place on October 19 and November 16. The application window will close at 5pm on Friday 2nd December.

Email for more information or register for the events here:

Wednesday 19th October: 2pm-3pm
Information Session: Smartify Opportunity for Highlands and Islands Museums

Register here

– Wednesday 16th November: 2pm-3pm
Information Session: Smartify Opportunity for Highlands and Islands Museums

Register here

Old hat, new ways; Digital dress up at the Highland Folk Museum

Old hat, new ways; Digital dress up at the Highland Folk Museum

Helen Pickles, curator at the Highland folk Museum, tells us all about the development of their digital dressing up filters and how they are using them to engage new and existing audiences.

Aside from the threat of moths and light damage, and the problems posed by delicate fabric and never enough storage space, there’s an additional challenge with costume collections…fighting the desire to dress up! Conservators can breathe a sigh of relief though, as the days of wearing one’s collection has long gone. The founder of the Highland Folk Museum, Dr Isabel F. Grant, had some of the 19th century dresses in the collection modelled by local girls (with tiny waists), and the images made into postcards. Former Curator Ross Noble was known to wear a tam o’shanter from the collection for events in the 1980s and 90s, but it’s a practice we’ve now, somewhat begrudgingly, left behind.

 We’ve recently been trying out an alternative way to experience the items…Augmented Reality dressing up.

In 2021 we received funding from the Esmeé Fairbairn Collections Fund which allowed us to get creative and develop a social media filter to let visitors try on something from the collection. This was a part of a wider project in which we also created digital tours of some of the historic buildings, to bring our collections to a wider online audience. 

After some research and looking at the capabilities and costs of the technology, we decided to stick to the head and shoulders rather than going for a full body experience. “Virtual trying on” has been used for a few years by opticians and glasses frames providers, to allow customers to test out what style suits their face, and it works well. Head movement tracking technology is advanced enough to give a convincing result, with the accessory matching the movement of the head. However, we couldn’t find any museums who had used this tech to engage users with heritage hats or accessories, so we were excited to give it a go and see what we could do.

We selected two hats from our collection which are quintessentially Scottish – the green tam o’shanter with red toorie as modelled by Ross Noble, and a 19th century white cotton mutch, with frills and a ribbon fastening. Both were in good condition, stable enough to be handled, packed and transported, they would hold their shape when photographed, and there were no very thin or transparent areas (such as lace) that would cause problems in data capture.  

The first stage of the process was to create a 3D model, then second stage was the production of the filter. Both of these are specialist skills that we didn’t have in-house, so we worked with two external companies on this project; AOC Archaeology Group and Dynam design agency. 

AOC Archaeology are experts in 3D scanning and photogrammetry. They usually work with archaeological remains, sites or buildings, but were very keen to take on the challenge of recording smaller museum objects, in particular textiles items. 

The bonnets were couriered down to the AOC studio and lab in Edinburgh, and photogrammetry (hundreds of photos taken from all angles, then digitally pieced together to form a whole) was used to produce the 3D models. There was some discussion about the angle of the tam o’shanter upon the head. According to James Logan, writing in his 1876 book “The Scottish Gael”, the inhabitants of Badenoch, Strathspey, Strathdon etc wore their bonnets cocked, so that provided our answer. 

Once the photogrammetry had been completed and the 3D models finished, Dynam took over to create the digital dress up effect. Rather than creating a whole new app to achieve the result, they recommended an Effects filter which works in both Instagram and Facebook – two platforms where we already have an established audience. 

After some back and forth with getting the size and colour just right for each hat, we ended up with two fantastic results. The final part of the creative process was taking the promotional shots. My colleague Hannes Schnell and I modelled the hats with the 19th century thatched Highland Cottage in the background, a building that fits with the era of the bonnets. Our seasonal Costumed Interpreters wear mutches, and now visitors can too! 

The filters were launched in late November 2021, and promoted in the local press and across our social media. They received a very positive response, with hundreds of views within the first few days. We encouraged our online audience to share images of them trying on the bonnets, and tag HFM in their posts. It seems like people are a little shy at doing this, as although the filters are being opened and viewed, users are about three times as likely to save the image than they are to publicly share the images on their posts or stories. 

Usage of the filters has been a wee bit quieter over the start of this year, but has picked up again since the museum opened to the public in April. Promotional posters around the site include QR codes to take visitors directly to the effects, which really helps in finding them. If you’re not used to using social media Effect filters, it can be tricky to find them until they’re pointed out, so we’ve found that providing direct links works really well in getting people there. 

We’ve received positive feedback from visitors on site too, with staff reporting lots of laughter and giggles with people trying on the hats. Trying on the tam o’shanter or mutch with the backdrop of the historic Highland buildings (or in the comfort of your own home) is a bit of fun – go on, you know you want to! 

Use your smartphone or device to try on the bonnets with the Facebook or Instagram apps:

Tam o’shanter 

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/fbcameraeffects/tryit/427288852174950/ 

Insta – https://www.instagram.com/ar/427288852174950/?src=vc 


Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/fbcameraeffects/tryit/2989676021274799/ 

Insta – https://www.instagram.com/ar/2989676021274799/?src=vc 

Image credits: Highland Folk Museum/High Life Highland

Digital Learning Hub – opportunity to work with us!

Digital Learning Hub – opportunity to work with us!

We are seeking a Digital Learning and Interpretation Specialist to work with us on creating content for a Digital Learning Hub for schools and families. This opportunity is supported by the Art Fund and Museums and Galleries Scotland.

Over the next year we are working with museums across the Highlands to create a dynamic digital learning hub enabling children, young people and teachers to discover and engage with museum collections from across the Highlands in new and exciting ways. The project brings together 17 museums from across the Highlands to collaborate in bringing objects from their collections together to create a digital portal into the rich history and culture of the Highlands. Users will be able to move through historical time, place or subject matter to explore objects in different museum collections using immersive imagery, video and audio and bringing them together to create their own ‘journeys’. The learning hub will allow users to access museum collections and learning resources related to objects and topic for use at home or in the classroom, with the functionality to contact museums directly to set up virtual or in person learning visits. 

The Digital Learning and Interpretation Specialist will be a creative leader in this project, focused on providing digital learning and interpretation experiences for all ages. This position is responsible for supporting participating museums in creating online and remote digital learning resources for a variety of audiences, most specifically targeting, teachers, families and young people currently in primary and secondary education. It may suit one person or a team and are happy to discuss different approaches with you before applying.

For full details on the position and on how to apply, please download the job pack below.