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Understanding the 
Museumselfie 
@alli_burnie 
Alli Burness 
Museum Computer Network Conference 
November 2014, Dallas, Te...
museumselfies.tumblr.com 
@alli_burnie #musesocial
March 2013 
@alli_burnie #musesocial
selfieresearchers.com 
@alli_burnie #musesocial
The Museum 
THE 
MUSEUM 
SELFIE 
Identity Theory Photography 
@alli_burnie #musesocial
• The #museumselfie is a meta-performative 
act of identity work 
• The #museumselfie is visual 
evidence of the personal ...
Identity 
• Identity is constantly changing 
through our performance of 
everyday life, be that physical 
or digital. 
@al...
Photography 
• The Mona Lisa argument against 
#museumselfies is an illusion. 
• The #selfie is about sharing 
everyday mo...
The Museum 
• The #museumselfie is a glimpse into 
the actions and performances which 
create museums 
• A #museumselfie l...
@ The Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh
@ Denver Art Museum
@ Rhode Island School of Design Museum
@ The Metropolitan Museum of Art
@ Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art
@ The Metropolitan Museum of Art
@ Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires
@ The Barbican Centre
@ The Studio Museum, New York
@ The Escher Museum, The Hague, Netherlands
Does a #MuseumSelfie have to be taken at a museum?
Alli Burness 
@alli_burnie 
museumselfies.tumblr.com 
alliburness@outlook.com
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Understanding the MuseumSelfie

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During 2013, selfies became a seemingly ubiquitous means of expression. They have been the subject of intense and popular attention. With the further penetration of mobile technology, they will become a broadly accepted and normalized mode of self-expression. This mode of expression has resonance in the museum space. Images continually appear with the #museumselfie hashtag, independent of museum-sector initiatives.

Based on a year of travel and graduate research, this presentation outlines a theoretical framework for understanding the function and meanings of museumselfies. It aims to demystify these images, decode the messages they broadcast, and place them in a framework of three themes: identity theory in visitor studies, contemporary social media theory, and current museological practice. This will show that museumselfies are a valid subset of the selfie phenomenon, one important for the museum sector to recognize as an important creative expression by visitors.

Published in: Art & Photos
  • It's been nearly 2 years since I gave this presentation at the Museum Computer Network conference. I've learned a lot since then and changed my thinking about museumselfies from what's presented here. See the published chapter finalising my research on Academia.edu: https://www.academia.edu/27259414/New_Ways_of_Looking_Self-representational_Social_Photography_in_Museums
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Understanding the MuseumSelfie

  1. 1. Understanding the Museumselfie @alli_burnie Alli Burness Museum Computer Network Conference November 2014, Dallas, Texas
  2. 2. museumselfies.tumblr.com @alli_burnie #musesocial
  3. 3. March 2013 @alli_burnie #musesocial
  4. 4. selfieresearchers.com @alli_burnie #musesocial
  5. 5. The Museum THE MUSEUM SELFIE Identity Theory Photography @alli_burnie #musesocial
  6. 6. • The #museumselfie is a meta-performative act of identity work • The #museumselfie is visual evidence of the personal meaning-making process conducted by visitors @alli_burnie #musesocial
  7. 7. Identity • Identity is constantly changing through our performance of everyday life, be that physical or digital. @alli_burnie #musesocial
  8. 8. Photography • The Mona Lisa argument against #museumselfies is an illusion. • The #selfie is about sharing everyday moments that weave the fabric of life in all of its variety. @alli_burnie #musesocial
  9. 9. The Museum • The #museumselfie is a glimpse into the actions and performances which create museums • A #museumselfie lets us see a visitor weaving their personal story around, onto, into an object or museum @alli_burnie #musesocial
  10. 10. @ The Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh
  11. 11. @ Denver Art Museum
  12. 12. @ Rhode Island School of Design Museum
  13. 13. @ The Metropolitan Museum of Art
  14. 14. @ Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art
  15. 15. @ The Metropolitan Museum of Art
  16. 16. @ Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires
  17. 17. @ The Barbican Centre
  18. 18. @ The Studio Museum, New York
  19. 19. @ The Escher Museum, The Hague, Netherlands
  20. 20. Does a #MuseumSelfie have to be taken at a museum?
  21. 21. Alli Burness @alli_burnie museumselfies.tumblr.com alliburness@outlook.com

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