Museum To Digitise Old Photographs Of Scilly

museum visitor materialThe Isles of Scilly museum is embarking on an ambitious project to digitise old photographs of Scilly in order to save them for future generations.

The museum has applied for £21,000 of Local Action Group funding to support the work.

Curator Amanda Martin said the money will be used to purchase a special high quality, large format scanner, as well as a smaller, hand held copier that can be used on the off-islands, away from the museum base.

They’ll be inviting anyone with old photos of the islands to get them scanned and stored. In return, you’ll receive a digital copy for yourself.

Amanda says the work is needed because photos often don’t age well and can deteriorate or fade. That means important records of local history could be lost forever.

From Radio Scilly

Museum Curator Amanda Martin discusses the new photographic project

And she says the photos are incredibly important because they tell us about the architecture and landscape, as well as the family histories of Scilly. The museum also has a large collection of images showing island events like May Day, weddings and funerals.

Amanda says the islands are unusually fortunate with the amount of visual records available, especially from early photographic pioneers like John Gibson. At one, Scilly had four world-class photographers working here.

And as an early tourist destination, the postcards sent from here, which were individual photographs with postcard paper stuck on the back, are often unique. Most of these left the islands, but Amanda says Scilly has such a huge following worldwide that people regularly buy them in auctions then donate them back to the museum.

She’s hoping the project will tease out some small photographic nuggets that have been hidden in islander’s family albums.

The photographic collection is part of a wider project at the museum to preserve a range of audio-visual records of the islands.

Amanda says this has “grown beyond belief” since the first audio recordings were produced at the museum, and now stretches to film, videos and DVDs. The museum will be using part of the money to build a new library to house the works, which Amanda hopes will all become digitised in the future.

The museum will also be enhancing its website to make the collection more accessible.

Amanda says this is a long-term project that will last way beyond the life of the grant.