Skip to content

5 reasons your cultural heritage organisation needs an interactive map

It’s 2022, and having an engaging digital presence is more important than ever.

Without further ado, here are Humap’s top 5 reasons your organisation should consider investing in a cultural heritage interactive map today!

1. Interactive maps make sharing and conserving your collections easier and more effective

Collections databases are industry standard, but these are often by and for researchers and industry professionals. How can you use those databases to create something everyone can get value from?

By pinning your collections onto an interactive map, you’re making them parsable at a glance, adding crucial context (no curatorial label word limits here!), and making sure valuable records don’t get lost in an avalanche of text-only search results.

For some examples, a museum could plot the locations of its artefacts originating communities, and embed their perspectives into the experience of viewing the object on the map. A gallery could plot the lives of artists, the migration of specific pieces, or the development of different artistic movements. Archives could plot source locations, and Libraries could plot the lives of authors and the development of library science.

Image shows Humap's trail interface.
Figure 1: The Islington’s Pride North Islington trail uses QR codes and plaques to embed their cultural heritage interactive map into the physical space of the borough.

Having your collections accessible and multimedia exposes them to far more people. Your organisation gains new brand awareness and loyal visitors/users, new eyes on your Donate buttons, and new opportunities to engage with people from all around the world.

2. Cultural heritage interactive maps open up new avenues for collaboration

Collaboration is great for everyone. It’s tricky, though – what if geography, ownership, different cataloguing systems, and physical space were no longer issues?

this image shows some of the thumbnails for co-curated collections on the U.K. Holocaust Map.
Figure 2: The Association of Jewish Refugees’ U.K. Holocaust Map was created in collaboration with several notable archives and libraries.

Interactive maps are great for collaborative projects, and you can check out some of our customer success stories (like the U.K. Holocaust MapLayers of London, and Coventry Atlas) to see how cultural heritage organisations use our platform to collaborate.

These maps are also great for collaborating with your audience. Humap’s user-generated content feature has been used with great success by Layers of London to crowdsource local history and knowledge across the city. Currently standing at 11,595 records, Layers – created and curated by the University of London’s Institute of Historical Research and in collaboration with several national and local organisations – is a treasure trove of democratic history, and a masterclass in oral history gathering.


This image shows the user-generated content options on the Layers of London cultural heritage interactive map - you can create a record, a collection, or a project.

3. Engage new and existing audiences

Attracting new audiences and remaining interesting to existing ones is crucial, and having your collections online and accessible is a surefire way to cultivate strong relationships with both. How can your organisation gain an edge in the attention economy?

Online events (tours, talks, and everything in between) are one pandemic-led innovation that everyone wants to stay. Online/hybrid events are far more accessible and pose the opportunity to record, transcribe and disseminate, in an evergreen and SEO friendly format, at a later date. In short, they’re better for everyone.

On a map, these can be in video, image, and text formats, with a handy gallery feature for storing and displaying media. Moreover, the creation and curation of the map itself leads to opportunities to make some noise about your organisation and its mission.

This image shows several thumbnails for content on the Wiener Holocaust Library's Refugee Map.

Medium is also crucial here; traditional cultural heritage databases tend to be optimised only for desktop. Our cultural heritage interactive maps are optimised for desktop, mobile, tablet, kiosk; if it has a screen and an OK internet connection, it can access Humap.

This image shows how the cultural heritage interactive map looks on desktop and mobile.
Figure 6: Make your collections accessible from anywhere and anything. Image shows the Islington’s Pride Heritage Map.

4. Become thought-leaders and innovators in cultural heritage

A user-focused digital experience is the perfect complement to your organisations physical space. How can you make the most out of digital?

A well-curated cultural heritage interactive map can gather and present huge amounts of information in an accessible format. Local knowledge is one thing, but visitor perspectives, experiences, and suggestions are another – using our built-in analytics in tandem with UGC gives cultural heritage organisations a huge amount of data to inform their strategies.

This image shows the event page for the Archival Cartography event about their GLAM interactive map.
Figure 7: The event page for a collaborative event between The Wiener Holocaust Library’s and the LivingMaps Network.

Your map can be the platform you use to execute research – source-based, qualitative, and quantitative. Our clients use our platform to inspire and execute webinarstalkslaunch eventsschool sessions, teacher CPD and collaborative events . Having your collections out there and shared massively increases the ability of researchers globally to engage with your collections and organisation, and the content curation process is perfect for exploring new perspectives and conducting new research on your collections.

5. Make your digital strategy future-proof

When COVID-19 hit, the entire economy had to course-correct and pivot to digital-led strategies. What have we learnt from this?

Website users and social media followers are just as important as physical visitors, and gaining traction digitally is proven to drive in-person visits too. Online engagement increases the likelihood of showing up in search results, forging backlinks, and getting your content in front of more people. With an intuitive, attractive online collection only a few clicks away, your entire audience can engage with your collections with as little a barrier to entry as possible.

This image shows the thumbnails for several overlays on Coventry Atlas on the GLAM interactive map
Figure 8: Historical map overlays on Coventry Atlas.

Digitisation is now the industry standard but it comes with its own issues. Hosting a freely accessible, digitised, multi-media collection is expensive (we do that bit for you) and requires maintenance (we do this too) and in-depth technical expertise (we’ve got you covered).

Lastly, a robust digital presence that attracts new eyeballs makes good fiscal sense. Many cultural heritage organisations survive on donations, and it is critical that their digital presences give their users a reason and an opportunity to donate. Your collections are important; they should be for everyone, for ever. Give the gift of posterity to your collections with an interactive map!

There we go – our top five reasons for investing in an interactive map today! Did we pique your interest? You can request a (free!) demo by emailing us at [email protected], or by using our contact form.

You can also find out cultural heritage use case page here.

Send a message

How can we help?

We usually respond in a few hours