Thursday, April 22, 2010

Museums move ahead with social media for engagement

Museums have long since moved from hands-off to hands-on, wherever possible  Today's New York Times notes that museum visits are down due to school budget cuts, and museums are using in-person visits to schools--reverse field trips--and their websites to reach out.  Social media's a key to closing that connection gap.  Check out these active efforts not just to reach out, but to involve museum visitors:
  • Coming up this summer at the Museum of Modern Art is the exhibit "Talk to Me," all about the communication between humans and objects (think cellphone, ATM, laptop) and MOMA has launched this online journal that encourages comments, additions and suggestions.  From the blog: "Under the queue tab you'll find projects that piqued our interest and are awaiting further research, whereas if something is tagged as checked, it has already gone successfully through that phase and it sits in our preliminary database, which will not be final until, probably, the opening day of the show."  A real attempt at a behind the scenes blog that--it's hoped--will build interest in the exhibit and draw visitors.
  • This New York Times review of London's new Darwin Center at the Natural History Museum describes how it essentially turns the museum inside out to show visitors how its collections are gathered and curated--and even show them scientists at work in the lab.  The review notes that this museum originated with the collections of amateurs, meaning it was an early example of what we'd call crowd-sourcing today.
  • A new book, The Participatory Museum, comes from Nina Simon, who also writes the Museum 2.0 blog. She used social-networking approaches to build the book, including a wiki that helped develop, edit and even name the book.  Both book and blog are loaded with case studies of participatory museum events and programs.
You don't need to communicate for a musuem to put these ideas to use.  If you've got a physical facility that visitors can come to--a laboratory, an historic archive about your industry or company, a factory--you can make use of these tactics and technologies.

Related posts:  3 location-savvy ways with social media (including the Metropolitan Museum's "Time We Met" Flickr campaign

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