Virtual Heritage and Wellbeing

Investigators: Amy Luck and Dr Faye Sayer

Project Brief:

The outbreak of COVID-19 and the subsequent public health safety measures and restrictions have had a huge impact on the global heritage sector. One of the most noticeable impacts has been the sector’s necessary shift to digital. An April 2020 survey of 650 museums in 41 countries conducted by the Network of European Museum Organisations shows that more than 60% of museums have increased their online presence since closing due to social distancing and 40% have experienced a large upsurge in online visits.[i] The COVID-19 pandemic has also had a marked impact on individual’s wellbeing, with individual life satisfaction was lower, and depression and anxiety levels higher than normative reported averages.[ii] These circumstances present a unique opportunity to investigate if engagement with virtual heritage has the potential to impact individual’s wellbeing, particularly when wellbeing is low, which this research aims to do.

This research will seek to:

  • Evaluate how engagement with virtual heritage sites can impact visitor wellbeing, during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Understand how different types of virtual heritage sites and diverse demographics of visitors positively and/or negatively impact on subjective wellbeing.
  • Identify what elements of virtual heritage provide the greatest positive change to wellbeing.
  • Compare the impact of virtual heritage to that of in-person heritage experiences on wellbeing.

Project Method:

This research employs quantitative wellbeing measures such as the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS) and Modified Wellbeing Scale (MWS) alongside quantitative measures such as free comment space on surveys to identify impacts on individual wellbeing.

The mixed-method research methodology has developed from an accurate and critical data capture strategy already piloted on several heritage projects in the UK, USA, India, and Nigeria.[iii]

Participation:

We are actively seeking participants from all demographics to take part in this research.

If you would like to take part, simply follow the steps below:

  1. Read the participant information sheet to find out more: http://tiny.cc/lmd9nz
  2. If you’d like to take part, click this link and fill in the survey: https://bit.ly/3eT9h9A
  3. Once you finished the survey, visit one (or more) of the below museums or heritage sites – virtually!

(Recommended minimum time 20 minutes, maximum 2 hours)

(Just click on the yellow man to access virtual tours or scroll down to see collections on Google Arts & Culture)

  1. Once you’ve finished your visit, click this link and fill in the survey: https://bit.ly/3b6UYgz

Project partners:

We would like to thank Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, who throughout the pandemic have and continue to host an impressive range of digital heritage (from talks to zoom tours) for their partnership and support with this project. 

Call for additional partners:

Following the success of our pilot project conducted during summer 2020, we are now seeking to expand the Virtual Heritage and Wellbeing project by working in partnership with a wide range of heritage organisations/projects/professionals to embed wellbeing evaluation surveys in digital heritage activities. If you or your organisation are currently working on any digital heritage projects/outreach and are interested in finding out more about partnering with us to evaluate the impact of digital heritage on user wellbeing, please get in touch (amy.luck@stu.mmu.ac.uk).

We would share findings and could produce a short report for your organisation on the impact of your digital activities on user wellbeing.

Contact:

If you would like to know more about this project, please contact amy.luck@stu.mmu.ac.uk.

Fancourt, Daisy, Bu, Feifei, Mak, Hei Wan, and Steptoe, Andrew, ‘Covid-19 Social Study Results Release 5’, Covid-19 Social Study Results  University College London, (2020) <https://www.covidsocialstudy.org/results> [Accessed 19 February 2021]

Fancourt, Daisy, Bu, Feifei, Mak, Hei Wan, and Steptoe, Andrew, ‘Covid-19 Social Study Results Release 6’, Covid-19 Social Study Results  University College London, (2020) <https://www.covidsocialstudy.org/results> [Accessed 19 February 2021]

Network of European Museum Organisations, ‘Survey on the Impact of the Covid-19 Situation on Museums in Europe’,  (2020) <https://www.ne-mo.org/fileadmin/Dateien/public/NEMO_documents/NEMO_Corona_Survey_Results_6_4_20.pdf> [Accessed 19 February 2021]

Sayer, Faye, ‘Can Digging Make You Happy? Archaeological Excavations, Happiness and Heritage’, Arts & Health, 7. 3 (2015), 247-60

Sayer, Faye, ‘Understanding Well-Being: A Mechanism for Measuring the Impact of Heritage Practice on Well-Being’, in The Oxford Handbook of Public Heritage Theory and Practice, ed. by Angela M. Labrador and Neil Asher Silberman (New York: Oxford University Press, 2018), pp. 387-404

[i] Network of European Museum Organisations, ‘Survey on the Impact of the Covid-19 Situation on Museums in Europe’,  (2020) <https://www.ne-mo.org/fileadmin/Dateien/public/NEMO_documents/NEMO_Corona_Survey_Results_6_4_20.pdf&gt; [accessed 19 February 2021]

[ii] Daisy Fancourt, Feifei Bu, Hei Wan Mak, and Andrew Steptoe, ‘Covid-19 Social Study Results Release 5’, Covid-19 Social Study Results  University College London, (2020) <https://www.covidsocialstudy.org/results&gt; [accessed 19 February 2021]; Daisy Fancourt, Feifei Bu, Hei Wan Mak, and Andrew Steptoe, ‘Covid-19 Social Study Results Release 6’, Covid-19 Social Study Results  University College London, (2020) <https://www.covidsocialstudy.org/results&gt; [accessed 19 February 2021]

[iii] Faye Sayer, ‘Understanding Well-Being: A Mechanism for Measuring the Impact of Heritage Practice on Well-Being’, in The Oxford Handbook of Public Heritage Theory and Practice, ed. by Angela M. Labrador and Neil Asher Silberman (New York: Oxford University Press, 2018), pp. 387-404; Faye Sayer, ‘Can Digging Make You Happy? Archaeological Excavations, Happiness and Heritage’, Arts & Health, 7. 3 (2015), 247-60.

One thought on “Virtual Heritage and Wellbeing

  1. Pingback: Wellbeing and heritage research in times of closure | MANCHESTER CENTRE FOR PUBLIC HISTORY & HERITAGE

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