The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way many of us work. Unsurprisingly, museums and the broader heritage sector have had to drastically change their working practices too, moving the focus of their work to the digital sphere. Egham Museum has been no different in this regard and the pandemic has allowed us to develop new forms of digital engagement and ways of using social media.
At the beginning of October, we had our most successful Twitter campaign, a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ thread set at Royal Holloway in October 1887 and based on the experiences of the first cohort of students. The opening tweet in the thread sees you assume the fictional character of Flora Seville and your challenge is to get through the day without being sent to the Principal’s Office. Although Flora is a fictional character, the daily routine and staff members referenced are true to history. Using the iconic Founder’s Building as the playground in which this adventure unfolds helps make the story more relatable.
We have been blown away by the response this thread has received. The Museum continues to find new and innovative ways of spreading the good word of Egham and its history, so please do give us a follow on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. When it is safe to do so, we would love to welcome you to the Museum, based in the Literary Institute on Egham’s High Street.Egham Museum
Egham Museum’s Flora Seville thread, a similar concept to Netflix’s Bandersnatch (released in 2018), helps you to live the life of Seville as she enters Royal Holloway upon its opening, making decisions such as what to wear to dinner, what topics of conversation to discuss and how exactly you will break the school’s rules. The threads don’t take too long to explore and throughout the process you discover some of the old customs at Holloway such as strict chapel times and dress codes and also learn about the old teachers and their subjects.
Some of the threads of the stories end up with you being told off by teachers for breaking the rules, such as skipping class or being outside the dorms at night, but arguably the main thread (or at least the most interesting) results in joining an underground movement for female enfranchisement (spoiler alert!). Royal Holloway has a famous history of campaigning for women’s rights and equality. When Bedford and Holloway colleges were founded in 1849 and 1886 respectively, they were among the first institutions to offer higher education to women in the UK.
One of our famous alumni is, of course, Emily Wilding Davidson, a prominent member of the suffragette movement who became a martyr for the movement after being hit by King George V’s horse at the 1913 Derby after walking onto the track in protest.At Holloway it is always encouraging to remind our students of the university’s history as something to be proud of, and so Egham Museum’s adventure twitter thread is certainly a fun and educational method for this.
The museum is unfortunately closed at the moment until 3rd December due to the second lockdown, but their website has plenty of resources about the local area and the university which you can access for free on the site. Their twitter account is also worth a follow as their social media team are ace, especially with the Seville twitter thread story showing just how committed and innovative they are. If you would like to play the game, the link is at the bottom of this article. Throughout this lockdown we will all have more time on our hands, so why not support our local museum, engage with their materials and learn about our history!
Image credit: Egham Museum