‘Exploring Blockchain in the Cultural Sector’ Conference programme & registration is now live

We are excited to announce that the programme for ‘Exploring Blockchain in the Cultural Sector’ is now available online, which you can find here.

Due to the ongoing uncertainty with COVID-19, the ‘Exploring Blockchain in the Cultural Sector’ conference will now take place online via Zoom. You can register you attendance either on the registration page on our website or via the Eventbrite page here.

In order to receive the Zoom link for each session, we ask that you register separately for each panel. The links for registration will be emailed to attendees nearer the time of the conference.

Announcing ‘Exploring Blockchain in the Cultural Sector’ Conference

Location: University of Manchester, UK

Date: Friday 16th October 2020

We are pleased to announce the upcoming conference ‘Exploring Blockchain in the Cultural Sector’, a one-day event which invites academics, PhD students, artists and practitioners to critically examine the potential of blockchain technology in the arts and cultural sector. Blockchain is a distributed ledger technology with the potential to disrupt and challenge understandings on concepts such as authenticity, authority and ownership. We invite proposals for 20-minute presentations which focus and reflect the potential of blockchain in relation to the creative and cultural sectors.

For the full call for papers please see link below:


Deadline for Proposals: 24th April 2020

Email: blockchainandtheculturalsector@gmail.com

Announcing the ‘Ethics of Using Digital Media in Arts and Humanities Research’ Conference

We’re proud to announce the ‘Ethics of Using Digital Media in Arts and Humanities Research’ conference, which will be hosted on February 22, 2019 at the University of Manchester.

Registration is free, to do so please click on the following Eventbrite link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ethics-of-using-digital-media-in-arts-and-humanities-research-conference-registration-53725781258

This one-day conference will focus on examining the ethical implications and considerations of using digital media in researching cultural heritage. The event is a continuation of the 2017 Researching Digital Cultural Heritage conference (organised by the University of Manchester and Newcastle University), with an emphasis towards post-graduate researchers and early career researchers and academics.

The ‘Ethics of Using Digital Media in Arts and Humanities Research’ conference is supported by the Digital Futures initiative of the University of Manchester.

The event will be split into two formats:


Keynote by Dr. Jenny Kidd (Cardiff University):
Being ethical’ in digital heritage research

Arran Rees (University of Leeds):
Codes of Ethics, Due Diligence and Social Media: A critical reflection on the appropriateness of existing ethical frameworks for collecting social media content in museums.

Emily C. Oswald, University of Oslo:
When “Camilla” remembers on Facebook, do we need consent to study her comment? Ethical considerations for research about heritage on social media

L. Meghan Dennis (University of York):
Archaeological Ethics in Digital and Immaterial Spaces of Play: Ethical Lessons from Digital Ethnography

Maria Paula Arias (University of Manchester):
Big fish, small fish: A network approach to ethical research in digital museology

Harald Friedman (University of York):
Beyond ethics of convenience

Hands-on exercises and discussion to share existing practices and to co-create an online resource that can be made publicly available (for researchers and practitioners alike). The resulting resource will focus on ethical considerations, issues and relevant examples/case studies in using digital media in cultural heritage research.

For more details, including information about speakers’ abstracts and biographies, please see https://digitalheritageresearch.wordpress.com/conference-2019/

We look forward to seeing you in Manchester in 2019!

Researching #Nymphgate and its impact to the Manchester Art Gallery

Social media has slowly, but surely, crept into our daily lives. We like, comment, and share posts with such regularity that these activities have become almost mundane. Whilst it can be easy to brush off social media as ‘simply’ marketing and communication tools, the power these networked technologies enable should not be ignored. Museums have adopted social media to engage with their communities and they are slowly adapting their use of these tools towards more participatory dialogue. Since museums are a reflection of their communities and their environments, and as they are not neutral or objective organisations, they often use their resources (i.e. collections and expertise) to participate in, and comment on, broader contemporary events (and trends).

An example of this type of participation is the recent performance project by Sonia Boyce at the Manchester Art Gallery, where the J.W. Waterhouse Hylas and the Nymphs painting was temporarily removed.

Waterhouse, John William, 1849-1917; Hylas and the Nymphs
Hylas and the Nymphs. J.W. Waterhouse. Credit: Manchester Art Gallery. http://www.artuk.org/artworks/hylas-and-the-nymphs-206346 

The performance seemed to have a double aim: to spark dialogue about the representation of the female body in the particular gallery space where the painting resides, and to question how items on display (in general) are interpreted. When the painting was removed, the Gallery invited visitors to leave their thoughts, comments, and responses on post-its ‘on display’, as well as invited visitors and audiences to converse online by using the hashtag #MAGSoniaBoyce.

The days that followed this performance brought a barrage of responses onsite and online. Most notably, the Gallery and the Contemporary Art Curator were accused of censorship and of ‘piggybacking’ on a serious social movement as part of a marketing stunt. The ample flood of reactions was so unexpected that it quickly became known as #nymphgate amongst Gallery staff.

nymphgate - 9
Post-its responses at the Manchester Art Gallery. Credit: Maria Paula Arias

My doctoral thesis explores how museums use social media to build, communicate, and expand on their brands (their identity and personality) – in it I propose that museum audiences and visitors (including non-visitors) have an active role in the brand-building of museums through their engagement on social media. The performance event at the Manchester Art Gallery is a timely case study that I aim to include in my thesis. Through the collection of social media data and a series of interviews, I aim to understand the process that led up to the performance (including decision-making, individuals involved, and communication strategies), as well as to understand the (un)intended role that social media played throughout. Furthermore, I aim to understand how the responses, particularly online, affected the organisation – for example in ways of working, public expectations, and the Gallery’s reputation.