Pinning Reading’s History

2,000 people contribute to gathering the history and heritage of an entire city, culminating in an interactive exhibition with 16,000 visitors.

Project Description

Image shared by Reading Museum

Pinning Reading’s History

Reading, UK

March 2011 – January 2012
Partner: Reading Museum
Heritage Lottery Fund

Gulbenkian Foundation


Explore the collection


Read the community case studyDownload the InfographicDownload the Evaluation Report


  • To strengthen connections between people in the local community
  • To increase and improve integenerational relationships
  • To increase people’s pride in Reading and their understanding of its history
  • To create a community archive of 200 years of Reading’s history
What happened?

In partnership with Reading Museum, a network of volunteers and local partners was created. Historypin Community Officer Amanda Holland gathered a group of 78 Local Champions and together they co-ordinated and inspired around 50 events across the town, with a wide variety of local organisations.

The Local Champions held weekly drop-in sessions at the museum where residents were encouraged to bring in materials and memories from the area, and there were facilities and assistance for scanning photos and adding contributions to Other events included workshops in schools and care homes, guided historical walks, coffee mornings, a series of library talks and one-to-one sessions at older residents’ homes.

Reading Museum contributed historical photos from their extensive collections and hosted the interactive exhibition which was the culmination of the project. The exhibition ran for six months period, showcasing the best materials gathered over the project, featuring physical displays as well as digital projections of contributions recently added to the website.

Read more on the blog.

What was created?
  • A local network of 76 local partners including 9 heritage organisations, 32 community groups and 35 schools.
  • 1,964 participants contributed 4,100 photos, videos and stories to a collection on which was visited by 125,000 people
  • An interactive exhibition at Reading Museum visited by 16,687 people
Press Coverage


Collaborative Partnership delivery

In collaboration with Reading Museum, we

  • Built up a network of local stakeholders committed to supporting the project
  • Hired and managed Historypin Community Officer who recruited volunteers and ran local activities
  • Promoted the project through local media
  • Designed and curated an interactive exhibition

Local Community Engagement

  • Advised Reading Museum on how to adopt the Historypin engagement methodology
  • Designed and created community engagement materials

Training and support

  • Ran training workshops on how to use
  • Supported museum staff, the Community Officer and volunteers to run engagement activities and use

Design & Digital

  • Designed the creative identity and branding
  • Iterated the platform in response to community needs

Collections and Content

  • Identified archival partners with relevant collections and supported uploads
  • Batch uploaded historical photos from Reading Museum’s collections


  • Designed the communications strategy

Measurement and Evaluation

  • Measured and evaluated the impact of the project (download the report here).


Social outcomes

  • 70% met new people through Historypin
  • 38 % of participants went on to participate in other community activities
  • 59% of participants felt closer to their community
  • 79% of interactions were inter-generational
  • 64% of participants said they understood the lives of older people much better

“It’s been good for me, I’ve learned some new stuff, become technically more adept with the computer feel more confident communicating with people, particularly in initiating discussions with people.” (Participant)

“It’s a good way to make connections. I’ve met people that you wouldn’t normally meet day to day but by coming here you get together so many people that it’s been quite useful in getting to know different types of people in Reading.”

Benefits for heritage and the museum

“Historypin offered the means for volunteers to take ownership of a local heritage project and generate more local engagement and participation than usual and to create a profound, permanent legacy for the town.” (Brendan Carr, Reading Museum Community Engagement Curator)

“Imagery that we haven’t seen or known exists in the community has emerged and been shared.” (Brendan Carr, Reading Museum Community Engagement Curator)



Pinning Reading’s History has been a tremendous way of breaking the ice with groups that haven’t been involved with the museum before. The capacity for this has been increased and good ground has been made in the volume of community engagement.”

Brendan Carr, Reading Museum Community Engagement Curator

“The project has demonstrated that there is great mileage in digital technology for engaging with communities and great mileage to be gained from museums seeking partnerships with the third sector and charities to create bigger results than they could on a stand-alone basis.”

Brendan Carr, Reading Museum Community Engagement Curator

“It has been great to have the energy the staff at Historypin brought to our work. The ideas that a third party brings to the table, opens avenues of thoughts and discoveries that wouldn’t have been thought about otherwise.”

Brendan Carr, Reading Museum Community Engagement Curator


If you’d like to run a similar project with Historypin, get in touch.