Linda Spurdle is the lead on digital strategy, engagement, and ICT across Birmingham Museums Trust, where she is committed to increasing access to Birmingham Museum Trust collections and images.
She was behind Birmingham Museum’s first open-access policy, making it the only museum collection in the UK that makes all of its out-of-copyright artworks available for free under a Creative Commons Zero License. Since this resource’s creation, and the museum’s later partnership with Unsplash in 2020, the images have been downloaded by 1 million users, and viewed by 2 million.
Birmingham Museums Trust is the only collection in the UK that makes all of its out-of-copyright artworks available for free under a Creative Commons Zero License
Spurdle champions creative new ways to engage with the museum, running a series of hacks and workshops in recent years. This included a collaboration with Cold War Steve and Black Gold Club in 2020, on a project called Cut Copy Remix. Held during the pandemic, the digital-first project encouraged artists to create something new using the museum’s open access images. It resulted in several new works being created, including a Cold War Steve piece called Benny’s Babbies, celebrating the city and its inhabitants.
Recently, she worked with Yarden Yaroshevski, CEO and founder of games creator StikiPixels, on a unique project called Occupy White Walls (OWW), which draws hundreds of artworks from the museums’ collections into a game centring on a virtual art gallery. Speaking to blooloop about the project, she said:
“Most art galleries keep their works on their own collection’s website. Often, they’re not very big images. They might even watermark them. It’s effectively like keeping them in prison.
“In terms of the collection, like many museums, there’s only a very small amount that has been digitised. One of the benefits of the OWW game is that, since so little of the collection is on display, there are artworks you can see in the game that you wouldn’t be able to see in real life.”