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The Museums + AI Network

The Museums and Artificial Intelligence Network brought together a range of senior museum professionals from the UK and US  to develop the conversation around AI, ethics and museums. This £60,000 project was funded by the AHRC, and was lead by Oonagh Murphy and Elena Villaespesa (Pratt Institute), in partnership with The National Gallery, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, American Museum of Natural History. Further details of the project can be found on the dedicated project website

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Tech4Culture, Istanbul

The British Council, Creative Economy team commissioned me to evaluate an international programme called Tech4Culture. This included a series of industry seminars, a weekend long hackathon and a conference. Through a series of interviews, participant observation and Focus Groups I evaluated this programme against the stated Theory of Change, and proposed programme impacts. Alongside retrospective evaluation, this report also provide recommendations for next steps and examined how this model could be translated to other countries seeking to bring tech and arts communities together to create new ways of working. This commission included desk based work in the UK, and site visits in Istanbul. Spring 2017.

Norn Iron Girl 1981

Providing digital support to Bronagh McAtasney who was awarded an Arts Council Northern Ireland – Career Enhancement award to develop @NrnIrnGirl1981 . Through this award Bronagh has contracted me to provide digital strategy consultancy and facilitate Multiplatform research and development of her literary work. I am now working with Dr Laura Aguiar on a Journal article which will explore the value of the everyday, and the lived experience of girls in conflict, we hope to publish this work in 2018.

Capacity Building Toolkits

Arts & Business NI have commissioned me to write 7 toolkits to help arts organisations innovate and grow their capacity when it comes to fundraising and management. These toolkits look at: Fundraising for boards, Individual giving, Business model innovation, Setting up an arts organisation, Governance, Writing a fundraising strategy and Trusts and Fundraising. The toolkits include step by step worksheets, insights from leading industry figures and frequently asked questions. These toolkits are designed to provide the starting point for conversations between Arts & Business NI and their client organisations (and form part of their offer for paying members).  Spring 2017.

Techies in Residence

The team at Techies in Residence have commissioned me to write six, 2,000 word case studies which reflect on the experience and learnings of both the community organisations and techies involved in this project. This ground breaking project provided techies with a small bursary to encourage them to take time away from their normal client work and dedicate time to helping six community organisations solve social challenges. These case studies will be published in June 2016. This project is managed by Digital Derry.

Strengthening the Sector

Arts & Business NI and Belfast City Council have contracted me to develop five business planning toolkits to complement a series of business planning workshops and mentoring which is currently being offered to their client organisations. These toolkits cover: Fundraising, Sponsorship, Scenario Planning, Business Efficiency, Social Enterprise: Developing a Trading Subsidiary. These will be published over the next three months to coincide with training events.

Digital Transformation Consultancy: Belfast Circus School

Carrying out a digital audit, developing a digital strategy, and training staff to produce and manage creative digital content. The emphasis of this work was creating a more coherent approach to advocacy online. Providing digital skills training to the youth editorial group, establishing a youth circus blog, and developing an editorial policy (Spring 2015).

Public Art Procurement Panel: Belfast City Council

Scoring public art tenders, and sitting on the public art moderating panel to select a major new art work for East Belfast (May 2015.)

Amplify: A Crowdfunding Mentoring Programme for the Arts

Developing an innovative new mentoring programme for Arts & Business NI. This programme includes publishing a Crowdfunding Toolkit, delivering a Crowdfunding Masterclass, and mentoring four arts organisations from concept to Launch. Project partners: Mike Fleming – Creative Director + Whitenoise Design Studios. Project Participants: Oh Yeah! Spectrum Centre, Crescent Arts Centre, Wheelworks. National press for the project included The Guardian and Arts Professional. (August 2014 – March 2015).

Programme Development: Eighty81 Ebrington – Creative Hub

Providing event management and programming advice to Blick Studios Belfast and contributing to their successful tender to manage Eighty81 Ebrington (Summer 2014).

Family Friendly Galleries: Young at Art + CXNI + Caragh O’Donnell (University of Ulster)

Belfast’s range of art galleries, museums and project spaces are perceived differently by potential visitors. For some these are familiar, inspiring, vibrant hubs central to the life of the city; while for others they are unknown, intimidating and difficult spaces.Through this knowledge exchange project, researchers from the University of Ulster (myself and Caragh O’Donnell) will work with Young at Art and partner galleries to investigate how these spaces communicate with families and young people. The partners will exchange ideas, approaches and projects, as a means to find new ways to make galleries more accessible and welcoming to families. (March-June 2014).

Creative Camp Does Lunch: Blick Studios + Creativity Month

Blick studios asked me to run their successful annual creative camp. In previous years Creative Camp has taken an unconference format – this year we decided to have 3 creative industry lunches. Styled on conversation dinners, good food, lovely people and interesting speakers were key to making this event a success. One attendee commented that that she loved the format as it provided the opportunity to talk to new people (normally she only talked to people she already knew at this type of event).

Event Blurb: “Blick Studios would like to invite you round for lunch. Not just any lunch, but one of four themed creative industries lunches. Good food, nice people, and an opportunity to meet others working in your field. We have styled these events on conversation dinners, so sign up, come round, find your name card at the table and get chatting to other creative professionals. After lunch listen to one of our invited speakers as they share their work and then if you like, take the opportunity to share your work with the group. So whether fashion, design, games or film are your thing we’ve got the perfect programme for you”. Event photos. (March 2014).

Training: Irish Museums Association

The Irish Museums Association commissioned me to design and deliver a workshop on digital content for a range of museum professionals (many of whom were only beginning to explore the use of social media and web based platforms). I delivered a workshop called ‘Cats are your Competition’ to a group of 90 people. The workshop looked at what cultural organisations could learn from Cat Videos (viral content) and social media platforms (interactive design, and utilising platforms that support visitor engagement). This informal and practical workshop provided opportunities for participants to develop digital content strategies and explore how they could drive engagement both online and in gallery. (October 2013).

Training: Ulster Association of Youth Drama

The UAYD awarded me a Tender to deliver 1 to 1 social media training sessions for youth drama groups in Northern Ireland. During these session groups were provided with a simple, tailored social media strategy and taught how to use a number of social media platforms (including WordPress, Facebook and Twitter). Alongside 1 to 1 sessions I also produced a range of social media resources for youth drama groups including step by step guides, best practice case studies, and useful links to help groups create interesting online content. (Spring 2013).

Lecturing: University of Ulster

Over the last two years I have delivered a range of lectures and workshops on social media, digital engagement, digital strategy, research and development to Museum Studies, Media Studies and History students (at Undergraduate and MA level). In Spring 2012 I lead an innovative research and teaching program called ‘This is Our Playground’ which provided students with opportunities to develop digital skills, challenge established museum practice and participate in a 12 hour hack day at The Ulster Museum, Belfast. This project attracted international recognition; and as a result I presented a paper on ‘This is Our playground’ at the 2013 Museums and the Web conference in Portland, Oregon. A number of museums have expressed interest in working with me to develop a similar program for staff.

Event Management: Engaging Visitors through Play

I coordinated an international conference on engaging visitors through play at the University of Ulster in May 2013. This event was a joint project between the Centre for Media Research and the Museums Computer Group (both of which I am a member off). Alongside curating the conference programme which included speakers from Tate, Wellcome Collection, Open University and University of Leicester, I managed event logistics (from ticketing, to venue liaison to managing the event budget). (70 person event). 74% of delegates surveyed rated this event as excellent, and 26% rated it as good. photos.

Event Management: Strategically Digital

I acted as conference coordinator for the Museum Computer Groups annual conference ‘Strategically Digital’ which was held at Wellcome Collection in November 2012. For this event I lead on event logistics, and acted as venue and delegate liaison, I also worked as event manager during the event ensuring speakers and delegates were happy, and ensuring catering delivered to schedule. (150 person event). 75% of delegates surveyed rated this event as excellent, and 25% rated it as good.

Research: Arts & Business NI

I worked with Arts & Business NI to develop and deliver a piece of research on levels of Trusts and Foundations Funding received by Art Organisations in Northern Ireland. The research involved a survey and telephone interviews with a wide range of arts organisations, alongside quantitative financial data, I also recorded peoples experience of applying to and working with Trusts and Foundations. This research was then presented at an Arts Sector Trusts and Foundations Symposium   (March – April 2012)

Craft NI

At Craft NI I managed the exhibition programme and developed a contemporary collecting programme. I also researched guest speakers, and managed training events for emerging designer-makers. (Part time 2009-2010)

Frieze Art Fair

I worked at Frieze Art Fair for 4 years as assistant to the Fair Manager I dealt directly with galleries, artists and VIP’s ensuring the fair ran smoothly. This role provided me with a crash course in exhibition management, and saw me dealing with the wide range of contractors and internal and external staff that make an exhibition happen. I have worked directly with artists, galleries and press, but as with most exhibitions I spent the majority of time liaising with installation teams, lighting teams, carpet layers, cleaners, air conditioning and heating suppliers, art hauliers and traffic controllers. Most importantly I have learnt to think logically and strategically on my feet, to find solutions to issues as and when they arrive. (October 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010)

Young at Art

I started out working for Young at Art at the annual Belfast Children’s Festival in 2008, and have worked for them ever since on a freelance basis as both a Front of House, and Event Manager. This includes managing volunteers, delivering workshops, managing ticket sales, and working with lots of great people from artists, to families to school groups. (2008-present)

Venice Biennale 

As an Arts Council / British Council ‘International young Curator’ I spent the summer working at the Northern Ireland Gallery at Venice. I managed the daily running of the gallery which included everything from selling publications, welcoming visitors and critiques / other professionals, maintenance of the exhibition and equipment. (July-Aug 2009)

Parallax Venice

Whilst in Venice I co-founded Parallax an international artist collective. We held events, exhibitions and live art performances which where attended by Biennale artists, curators and visiting professionals.  In 2011 we handed management of Parallax over to The Fruit Market Gallery, and a new generation of Biennale staff. (July 2009 on-wards)

Platform 2

With Platform 2 I spent three months living in a Shanty Town in Peru. A great experience that allowed me to develop and deliver art workshops, curate a community photography exhibition and teach english through classic games such as duck, duck, goose. The informality of this experience was great, as we were encouraged to try out lots of different workshops and approaches to get the young people interested and involved. (Jan-March 2009)

De Montfort University

I started working in the Marketing department as a student ambassador in the first year of my degree, by final year I was a team leader.  I visited schools and colleges to give talks on life as a student, I hosted open days, and gave tours of the campus, I attended UCAS fairs as a representative of the university, I did lots and lots of data entry, and worked on the front desk at the Universities Enquiry Centre. (2005-2008)

Academic Research Projects

Winston Churchill Research Fellowship

In 2012 I was awarded a prestigious Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellowship. This fellowship provided me with funding to spend 5 weeks researching museums and digital engagement in New York. The aim of this project was to research international best practice, with a view to develop new models to scale digital practice in big museums, so that small museums could adopt and adapt these practices and become more digitally innovative. During my time in New York I visited museums, interviewed key staff, attended events, conferences and meetups. As a result of this fellowship I published ‘Museums and Digital Engagement: A New York Perspective’ and presented a session called ‘What’s Now, What’s Next, Whats Within Your Budget’ at Museum Next in Amsterdam (I spent Summer 2012 in New York, and presented at Museum Next in May 2013).

This is our Playground

Keen to develop new interactive experiences within a very traditional museum sector, the aim of this project was to train the next generation of museum professionals and interactive designers to produce site specific experiences. Building on the classroom based teaching students then took part in a 12 hour hack day at the Ulster Museum.

This is a collaborative project with Alan Hook, Alan is one of my PhD supervisors and is the Interactive Media Arts BA (hons) course director at University of Ulster. Following the hack day we have taken the students ‘Hacks’ to a number of strategic bodies and are looking at ways to roll out this format to museum professionals with a view to developing digitally engaged museum practice in Northern Ireland.

Hack day outcomes can now be found on our project blog 

Foursquare Mayor Chair 

The Foursquare Mayor Chair was a research and development project that provided new insights into how arts organisations can use apps to engage with visitors in Northern Ireland. Before this project took place arts organisations were producing expensive apps that very few people downloaded, the basis of these apps was research from England. Using the Foursquare app and game mechanics we (myself and Alan Hook) developed a low budget (£20) project that allowed arts organisations to test out an app ‘The Foursquare Mayor Chair’ so that they could really understand how apps and game mechanics work for them and their visitors before commissioning an expensive custom built app. The Foursquare Mayor chair allowed visitors to check into a physical object (an arm chair), using the existing game mechanics of Foursquare the person that checked in the most became the Mayor of the chair. This transmedia project was exhibited at The Void, Derry; QFT, Belfast and Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast. You can read more about the project on the project blog (Spring 2012).


Bored of having to travel to England for inspiration, I decided it was about time creative folk in Belfast got together and started to engage with digital technologies. In partnership with Karen O’Rawe from Audiences NI I developed an active and engaged group of like minded people under the hashtag #ArtsNI. We held 2 events, one at The Black Box and the other at Crescent Arts Centre in 2012. The events received no funding and instead relied on the generosity of speakers and venues all of who donated their time. These events sparked lots of debate and interesting partnerships.

Exploring the Irish Museum of Modern Art Online

Last year I carried out a multi platform web survey which explored where, when and how people engaged with IMMA online. The aim of this research was to shed new light on the complexity of the context in which visitors engage with museums online.

Taking a holistic approach to understanding online experiences the web survey sought to develop new thinking on the significance of visitor context on online experiences. Rather than focusing on web analytic’s this research focuses on when, where and how people engage with museums online.

@OonaghTweets | |

4 thoughts on “Projects

  1. verity says:

    Hi Oonagh. Love your site: eclectic! I see so many overlaps in our work. But to draw your attention to just one… I recently produced an “Interactive Ulster-Scots Heritage Trail” – see – which dramatises history for downlaod while users are in situ in the heritage sites.
    Jump cut… I’m running a research workshop in school of creative arts this Thursday called ‘blurring the boundaries between reality and fiction using digital technologies’. Should you be free….

    • Oonagh Murphy says:

      Thanks for sharing your blog, it’s really interesting! Glad you found my work relevant and interesting also. Oonagh

  2. ryantcrown says:

    This is a great read Oonagh! I recently gave a presentation at Queen’s about the ‘Future of Digital in the Arts’ – it was born out of my own frustration at a majority of local theatres and companies not engaging properly with their audiences and not using social media to its potential! Some interesting ideas here! Especially everybody interacting together using #artsni < LOVE THAT!!

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