The Museum of London’s new digital platform, set to launch in 2024, is to include 5,000 newly public oral histories from around London.
The stories, which users will be able to search and access for the first time, are part of the project which is designed to allow better access to digital collections for both academics and the general public.
The platform is also hoped to allow visitors to customise and personalise their journeys around the museum, which will reopen at its new West Smithfield site under a new name -The London Museum – in 2026.
Developed with the support of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Digital Accelerator for Arts and Culture, the platform will be designed with what it calls a ‘stories-first’ approach.
From the museum’s collection, the newly accessible recodings include an interview with Edith Poulson, who was born in 1918 to a Jewish family in Vienna. Poulson came to the UK in 1938 to avoid Nazi persecution and later became a teacher at the Open University.
Another account is that of Fylaktis Philippou, who worked as a barber in Briggs Gentleman’s Hairdressers in St James – a traditional shop with fixtures and fittings dating back to 1937. Fylaktis, known as Philip, worked at the barbers from 1949, and owned it from 1958 onwards. At the time of the interview, Philip was still working, alone, at the age of 84.
Trish Thomas, Head of Digital Innovation, Museum of London, said: “As a social history museum we are in a unique position to present our collections’ human stories first, offering new ways in – especially for underrepresented audiences who often tell us they find museum collections stuffy and inaccessible.
“As we move towards the opening of our world-class new museum, we want to revolutionise our digital offer, adding new layers of interpretation, connecting online and offline journeys seamlessly and allowing users to personalise their experiences wherever possible.
“I am delighted that this project will enable us to bring London’s stories to life for millions more people in the capital and around the world.”