(Please note that the 10 Most Wanted initiative has now ended and the website is being archived for posterity. The project partners are grateful to Nesta for funding 10 Most Wanted and thank all those who contributed their knowledge and opinions.)

Inspired by the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted website, our project combines the web, social media and gaming to motivate the public to search for unrecorded information about cultural artefacts.

10 Most Wanted enables players to work together and to reach out to other groups for assistance. It encourages them in physical enquiry as well as online research. It also helps curators to grow public interest around a collection and provides a framework for integrating user-generated content into curated collections.

The playful theme and popular iconography of 10 Most Wanted attracts people to the research task, game-play sustains their engagement, social media coordinates their efforts and involves their friends, a responsive website keeps players up-to-date with events and ties together the elements of the project.

By asking the public for help we make art less precious and more connected with its audience. We provide an accessible platform for people to work together towards a common goal, foster a feeling of ownership by the attribution of contributed information and enrich public collections with new information.

While this project involves details of plastic artefacts, the approach and methodology are equally applicable to many other types of collections.

10 Most Wanted takes a step beyond asking the public just to tag historical records, it provides a game-play and IPR framework within which the people can search for actual missing metadata relating to objects in a collection that, once found and verified, will enrich our knowledge of that collection for the benefit of all.