A Community History of Britain (The Gateway)


The aim of The Gateway is to provide a business opportunity for small and medium-sized cultural heritage institutions (SMIs) which will sustain and grow commercial value over the next decade. Focusing on creating a platform for the aggregated digitised visual content found in small and medium-sized cultural institutions, this project, initiated by Andrea, offers the heritage sector the opportunity to promote their collections to a wider audience for commercial licensing whilst providing a space for intra-sector communication.

These establishments are generally the guardians of local history and represent what is unique and special about communities and places and their stories are often hidden in drawers and store rooms.  Working together with the Consortium, an advisory group of cultural organisations, The Gateway offers the heritage sector the opportunity to promote their collections, via a searchable e-commerce platform, to a wider audience for commercial licensing, providing a new source of income.  Additionally increased sustainability and a stronger digital presence will lead to greater public awareness of and direct access to the collections and the institutions.  The Gateway will also create a private space for members to explore together opportunities, ideas and problems and to participate in joint activities, such as exhibitions, publications and online technology projects.

Our principle aims are to:

  • Create an e-commerce platform to reach commercial markets and generate income through image and brand licensing, social media, print on demand, etc.
  • Create an online visual history of Britain of stories from local and regional communities
  • Assist with identification and digitisation of commercial content for the licensing market
  • Offer reports to enable participating organisations to see the value of their images and how to increase the commercial worth of their collections
  • Provide links across the museum sector for sharing content and stories
  • Curate galleries across the aggregated content to inspire users from within the heritage sector as well as in the commercial and public markets

The benefits to you:

  • Providing a broad licensing platform with information on transactions: reports on images used, usages, users and revenue earned, which can be used to understand visitor and customer preferences for greater marketing effectiveness
  • Creating a database of visual stories providing searchable and accessible content for the creative industries: film makers, broadcasters, journalists, writers, etc.
  • Bringing greater awareness of the significance of expertise, authenticity, integrity and provenance in the visual marketplace
  • Enabling closer relationships with other organisations through knowledge transfer, and with 3rd parties for commercial opportunity
  • Facilitating greater automation resulting in cost cutting benefits, freeing up staff for other work
  • Increasing public awareness and understanding of collections
  • Implementing standardised metadata to enhance discoverability
  • Promoting the use of image tagging and direct links from search engine browsers to source increasing visitor traffic, destination and brand awareness
  • Highlighting regional identity; what and who is important to the community; what are the special traditions; what did they keep and collect, why?
  • Expanding outreach through online exhibitions with links back to the source to increase awareness of collections and visitor numbers
  • Supporting education and community involvement, and organisation identity

Consortium Members:

  • Beaford Archive
  • Black Cultural Archives
  • Historic England
  • Horniman Museum
  • Museum of English Rural Life, University of Reading
  • RAF Museum

Cultural institutions across Britain have been opening their doors less often or closing them altogether. As trustees of their local culture and traditions losing this history is the nation’s loss.  If we cannot maintain the physical presence of these special troves of our lives then we must preserve and narrate their stories online.


If you would like to explore this idea further and want to know more about this exciting project please read The Gateway Brief document. You can also contact Andrea on 07986 831138, or email