Friends of Manx National Heritage visit the New iMuseum

With the iMuseum closer to opening its doors to the public members of the Friends of Manx National Heritage gathered at the new facility to find out more about what is happening behind the scenes.

Housed in the former Government Analysts’ Laboratory, situated directly behind the Manx Museum on Kingswood Grove in Douglas, the building has been extensively refurbished, with a substantial monetary donation from the Friends of Manx National Heritage helping out with these improvements.

An informative lecture, given by Hannah Gerrard Assistant Curator at Manx National Heritage, explained some of the opportunities that will be on offer as the iMuseum reveals its inner secrets on a rolling basis.

The iMuseum is a digital resource geared towards the family historian and will provide a useful tool to students and researchers at all levels. Hannah’s work at Manx National Heritage involved preparing and testing the digital information and during her lecture explained how she discovered her own family history, using the iMuseum resources to illustrate the benefits of the new facility.

Viewed by Manx National Heritage as a major improvement to public service and access to information about the collections, the iMuseum will in due course make available film and sound archives from 1910, photographic portraits, photographs of Manx places from 1850, parish registers from the seventeenth century, census returns from 1841 and property deeds from 1890-1910. In addition every single page from Manx newspapers from 1792-1960 will also be available with every word searchable.

There will be a gradual programmed delivery of digitised content at the iMuseum with regular bulletins issued to inform everyone about additional information. This is a new venture for Manx National Heritage as it seeks to use digitisation to make records more accessible to the wider community, with their aim to attract people who wouldn’t normally pursue family history.

The building is scheduled to open in March 2011 and once the doors are open Manx National Heritage will be encouraging wider community interaction, offering a programme of events and activities. Staff will be on hand to offer assistance to visitors using the iMuseum, with the opportunity to provide feedback as data content on the iMuseum website as the services it provides continues to expand.

Searching the collections will be free of charge to visitors although a small payment will be applied for print outs, with Wi-Fi and email facilities also available.  Sometime in the future the iMuseum will be accessible online with a simple subscription service for their valuable collection of Manx newspapers.

Thousands of family history records will be available at the time of opening, but it is advisable to return at regular intervals as more of the records are digitised and uploaded by Manx National Heritage staff, volunteers and the public to whom Manx National Heritage is extremely grateful for their work and support.

Valerie Caine © February 2011