British Museum Backstage Pass

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The Great Court of the Museum, surrounding the original Reading Room.

"Backstage Pass tour" of the British Museum - In a nutshell

Where?: British Museum

When?: 10:45 Friday 4th June, 2010

Who can attend?: Any Wikimedian!

The outcomes of the day are collated at the foot of this article

What happened: Results of the day

What is it?

A Backstage Pass tour is an event aimed at sharing the expertise of real-world cultural institutions with our wiki-expertise. Principally this involves an organisation or interest group hosting a private tour for the benefit of local Wikimedians and in reciprocation we help improve the content on Wikipedia that is relevant to that organisation.

Simply put the day is in three parts:

  1. Private guided tour of 'backstage' areas of the museum with the experts.
  2. Lunch together (sponsored by Wikimedia UK)
  3. Sitting down with the curators individually/small groups to collaborate on topics discussed during the tour.

This event is being organised in collaboration with Wikimedia UK and will be the first tangible activity of the British Museum's new "Volunteer Wikipedian in Residence" programme (more info about this here). The contact person for this activity is Liam Wyatt aka Witty Lama

When/where is it?

Friday, June 4th, 2010 at the British Museum. See the Museum's getting here instructions for transport information.
Meet at 10:45 at the Great Court - by the Information desk. Bring your own laptop.

The British Museum has been kind enough to get involved for the pilot edition of this project in the UK. They are keen to integrate their collection with communities, online and in real life and therefore we are a good way to do that. Their largest number of non-search engine hits to their website come from Wikimedia Projects and the English Wikipedia articles in category:British Museum get viewed approximately 350,000 times a month!

What (British Museum)

A private tour of the public and storage areas of the museum and other areas as requested. We'll then have lunch and they will give us access to a wifi enabled meeting room where we can all work on-wiki after the tour.

Departments that will be opening their doors to us include:

British Museum ‘Backstage Pass’ day for Wikipedians Schedule
Time Activity Room Led by
10.45 - 11.00 Meet Great Court, by the Information Desk
11.00 - 12.15 Option 1: Tour of the Greek galleries (max. 20 people) Room 11, finishing Room 18 Ian Jenkins & Andrew Shapland
Option 2: Coins and Medals (max. 4+4) Behind the scenes tour* Ian Leins & Megan Gooch
Option 3: Egyptian Department (max. 10) Behind the scenes tour* Liam McNamara
12.15 - 13.30 Lunch @ Staff Canteen - BM curators and Wikipedians
13:30 - 14.30 Option 3: Egyptian Department (Repeat) (max. 10) Behind the scenes tour* Liam McNamara
Option 4: Prints and Drawings (max. 10) Prints and Drawings Study Room An Van Camp
Option 5: Bronze Age Europe (max. 20) Room 51 Ben Roberts
14.30 - 15.00 Introduction to the Wikipedian-in-residence project Stevenson Lecture Theatre, Clore Centre Matthew Cock, BM Head of Web

Liam Wyatt, Wikipedian-in-residence
Mike Peel, Wikimedia UK

15.00 - 15.30 General discussion Stevenson Lecture Theatre, Clore Centre open
15.30 - 16.00 Break
16.30 - 18.00 Discussions between British Museum staff and Wikipedians, looking at articles, documentation, bibliographies, etc. Sackler Room, Clore Centre All
18.00 onwards End and Pub Penderel’s Oak, High Holborn (map) All invited

What (Wikimedians)

First come, first served! In the event that there is an oversubscription, members of Wikimedia UK will be given preference. Please bring your laptop and we'll hang out in the lounge during the second part of the day to collaborate.

The British Museum curators will "pitch" objects that are their personal favourites and we can work with them to start articles - following assessment of "notability"

Other types of content that could be improved:

  • Articles about existing articles of specific artefacts in the museum collection. See Category: Collection of the British Museum
  • Using photographs/information about BM objects to improve other more generic topics
  • Suggesting text that BM owns that could be incorporated into Wikipedia if it had appropriate copyright licensing.
  • The museum's own article

Sign Up

If you don't sign up we won't know you're coming! Please make sure that we can contact you if needs be - enable "email user" in your user settings if you are logged in.

If you do not want to list your name publicly, please contact me privately.


  1. Witty lama
  2. Seddon
  3. Mike Peel
  4. Harrypotter
  5. Magnus Manske
  6. Johnbod en page
  7. WereSpielChequers
  8. chrisboote
  9. mattgirling
  10. Steve Bowbrick
  11. Marek69
  12. Le Deluge
  13. User:Colonel Warden
  14. Grafen
  15. Victuallers and partner (travelling from Derby - do you want a lift?)
  16. S Marshall (wp userpage), and perhaps wife and son.
  17. JMiall
  18. Pjthompso
  19. ()
  20. ChrisO WP/EN page
  21. Noelypole
  22. HelioSmith
  23. Andrew Gray
  24. Claritas
    Phantomsteve - due to circumstances beyond my control, I wil l not be able to attend, unfortunately -- PhantomSteve/talk|contribs\ 07:41, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
    Chachu207 - unfortunately I also will have to withdraw. My apologies for this, I sorely wish I could take part. --Chachu207 16:51, 3 June 2010 (UTC)
  25. User:Charles Matthews
  26. SpinningSpark
  27. KTo288
  28. David Keens
  29. wikipedia:User:Chocolate4921
    Rich Farmbrough Not up to it today.
  30. createfurther
  31. The Flying Spaghetti Monster En page
  32. Coolcat64 (and friend)*confirming from list below*
  33. James F.

---List closed, join waiting-list (except if you're confirming your attendance from the list below)---

Interested (but not confirmed yet):

  1. Ham
  2. AroundTheGlobe
  3. Roleplayer
    SilkTork - I am having problems getting child care so am looking increasingly unlikely to be able to make this.
    I have not been able to resolve childcare to my satisfaction so will not be attending.
  4. Elvie Love
  5. (Rovington 00:21, 19 May 2010 (UTC))

# Lukasz Lukomski Unfortunately work related issues :( Lukasz Lukomski 00:49, 4 June 2010 (UTC)

  1. Theresa knott 11:08, 23 May 2010 (UTC)
  2. Coolcat64
  3. -- 09:26, 24 May 2010 (UTC)

---No more names please---
---If you're interested in attending future events like this, please let us know on the talk page---

Any Questions? Add your own.

  1. Do I have to register to attend, or can I just arrive on the day?
    You do not have to register, but preference will be given to those who do by signing up on this page.
  2. Is there a minimum number of Wikipedia edits I have to have made to be allowed to attend?
    Of course not. All are welcome - even if you've never edited Wikipedia before. Being "a Wikipedian" is a self-defined thing, so if you call yourself a Wikipedian (or would like to become one) then come along.
  3. Do I have to be a member of Wikimedia UK?
    No, this is open to all. However if you would like to join Wikimedia UK and get involved in other projects like this or start your own, you can do so here
  4. If I come and take the tour, will I be obliged to make Wikipedia contributions about British Museum topics?
    No. As volunteers, there is no obligation to do anything. Of course, it is encouraged for you to stay after the tour to share your wiki-expertise with the interested curators (that's the quid pro quo of this free event after all) but you are under no obligation to do so. Equally, it is hoped that you'll be inspired to write about some of the things/ideas you've seen for Wikipedia and maybe collaborate with the curators doing so, but you don't have to.
  5. Can I bring my camera?
    Here is the British Museum's photography policy page. You may bring your camera and take photos in the public galleries. Photos in the non-public areas will be on a case by case basis - ask the curator leading the tour if you're not sure.
    5b) That policy seems to only allow photography for personal use, which is of no use to Wikimedia, will they allow us to take any photographs for Wikimedia use?
    The policy is a generic one for the public-at-large whilst this event is a specific situation. Whilst the BM is not going to write a new policy for us for this specific day you can assume that if the BM allows you to take photography in a particular area, then they allow you to use the photograph for whatever purposes - including uploading them to Wikimedia Commons. Many photographs taken within the public areas of the BM are already uploaded to Wikimedia Commons and the BM has no problem with this.
    5c) Will the permission on a case by case basis be considered purely in terms of whether not flash might damage the exhibit, or do they inted to use this to protect their commercial interest?
    The case by case basis will be in the non-public areas. The reasons for allowing/disallowing photography in certain areas will primarily be: potential for damage to the object (e.g. flash); for security reasons (e.g. where the CCTV cameras are placed or similar); for privacy reasons (it will be in the "office" of many staff who may not wished to be photographed); for public relations reasons (e.g. not wanting to have documents or half-complete projects photographed). It is unlikely that "commercial interests" will be raised as a reason for not allowing photography.
  6. What about lunch?
    Lunch will be in the staff canteen of the museum and is being paid for by Wikimedia UK.
  7. How much wiki-expertise/knowledge of wikimedia policies and procedures will participants be expected to possess?
    Please see question 2.
  8. Do you have to own/bring a laptop?
    It will certainly help if you are intending to assist in the second half of the event (although there is no requirement that you stay) - the BM will not be supplying computers for us, only wifi.
  9. It is not stated how many places there are. Will we receive invitations individually after the attendees are chosen?
    Now that the level of interest has been gauged we can better ascertain how many people to cater for. The BM will, if they deem necessary, place a cap on the number of attendees and if that is lower than the number who've already signed up then we'll have to work something out. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.
    Ok, but do you intend to issue invitations by e-mail? I need to know somehow or other whether I am definitely invited. It would be helpful to know the route the information is going to be disseminated so I am watching the right thing. SpinningSpark 08:33, 21 May 2010 (UTC)
    There will be no other official invitation other than the information at this page. Of course, if the details change then we'll contact you directly, but you can assume that if you hear nothing else after having placed your name on the list then just turn up on the day.
  10. problem sign up.(!) I have tried and tried and tried x 5, it is not working. Bottom of page I get: Done, but errors on page and my name is not appearing. I wrote to: contact me if you don't want your name displayed' to explain my problem, yet no reply. Why am I experiencing this problem? Help needed. Thank you. Username:Createfurther
    I've added you to the list - welcome aboard.
    Thank You Very Much from Createfurther
  11. My friend and I are both 13. Would we be allowed to come along for the tours or is there an age requirement?
    There is no minimum (or maximum) age limit - as long as you're interested and have permission from the relevant parent :-) It might be a different story getting into the pub afterwards, but we can work that out later.
  12. It might be interesting to have an article on this at wikinews both from the museum's point of view, and from the foundation's. I guess most of what will be needed for an article could come from the "wikipedian in residence" and "general discussions" part of the day. But if I do do an article I would like to do some framing questions (really really basic questions like what is the British Museum, what is its outreach project, what is backstage pass and what does the two sides think they can gain from working together etc) I would also like to ask some questions after the event to gauge how succesful both sides feel the day has been. Would there be anyone at the museum and on the wikipedia side of things willing to take question on this for an article (the "interview" could probably be done by email in advance or on a article preparation page at wikinews, depending on preferences).KTo288 09:51, 24 May 2010 (UTC)
    A wikinews article about these kinds of activities would be a nice touch :-) You are certainly welcome to write your questions to me (Witty lama) on the wiki side of things. You can also send me the questions for the museum representative and I'll forward them.
    Cool I'll work out some question with collaborators at wikinews and probably Commons and get back to you.KTo288 22:11, 25 May 2010 (UTC)
  13. (relative latecomer) If someone can't come, I'd love to swap with them! Limiting factor: I need to know on Thursday so I can catch the night ferry on time (coming from The Netherlands) --Kim Bruning 21:07, 30 May 2010 (UTC)
  14. For lunch, must we eat in the staff canteen, or will we be able to go elsewhere and return afterwards? Coolcat64 16:50, 31 May 2010 (UTC)
    Don't have to, not a problem. You can certainly go across the street or nearby and meet us later.

Past example

Backstage Pass at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney - organisation page.

Results of the day

Here's a summary of the Wiki contributions made on the day (shortcut to this subsection: ):

Image now used in wikipedia:Battle axe, with reference/backlink to British Museum
Image now used in wikipedia:Seax of Beagnoth, with reference/backlink to British Museum

  • Contribution to existing articles:
    • Colored woodblock technique used in the Portrait of Otto Müller by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner added to wikipedia:Woodcut#Colour with reference to British Library collection database
    • Sourcing and rewrite of Ginger (mummy)
    • Photos taken on the way to/from the event for several articles in the neighbourhood, which include some BM-related ones like wikipedia:Museum Street, and which will go up over the next few days
  • Tools
    • Track usage of images from the British Museum on Commons in Wiki(mp)edia projects here. Turn on "details" for individual files and their usage. The top image is used 2210 times (as part of a template). In general, 2/3 of the BM images on Commons are used on Wiki(mp)edia.
    • Find most wanted new articles in the British Museum category tree on English Wikipedia here.
    • Find British Museum-related articles that do not have an image, and potential images on Commons and other projects, here.
    • BM articles grouped by common categories here.
    • Draft BM article checklist on Wikipedia talk:GLAM/BM