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Museum as Platform: Envisioning Visitors as Creators & Contributors


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The session at the American Alliance of Museums in 2009 explored online museum projects that encourage visitors to be creators and contributors in the online museum exhibit. This presentation is about the Smithsonian Photography Initiative's project, click! photography changes everything ( Other presenters included:

Matthew Fisher, president Night Kitchen Interactive (

Danielle Rice, Executive Director, Delaware Art Museum, Art of Storytelling website (

Bill Adair, Director of the Heritage Philadelphia Program for The Pew Charitable Trusts, Rosenbach Museum's 21st Century Abe project (

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Museum as Platform: Envisioning Visitors as Creators & Contributors

  1. 1. Installation View of Smithsonian Photography Hayden Survey Party Picnicking, by William Henry Exhibition Art Section, by Thomas Smillie, SIA Jackson, 1872, Smithsonian Institution Archives Neptune, False-Color Image, National Air and Space Bodianus rufus, Juvenile (Spanish Hogfish) Museum, Center for Earth and Planetary Sciences Belize Larval-Fish Group 2005
  2. 2. Daguerreotype of Architect's Model of the Smithsonian Institution Castle, Unidentified photographer,1846, National Museum of American History, Behring Center, Division of Information Technology and Communications
  3. 3. goals Host a discussion about photography AND • anthropology • Astrophysics • dating • media • medicine • philosophy • sports, etc. Make it inclusive … cross-disciplinary, many perspectives Relate it to Smithsonian Photo Collections
  4. 4. challenges Include many voices AND maintain click! ideas click! is more about photo context than content When your audience is everyone, how do you reach them?
  5. 5. visitor contributed content (6 mos.) Source Submitted Accepted % Accepted : Submitted Pre-Launch: 17 3 17% National Writing Project Launch 17 5 29% CFE: 3 0 0% Inauguration CFE: Women’s 6 1 16% History Month Other * 79 0 0% Total 120 9** 6% *Majority submitted via Flickr ** In 6 month time frame
  6. 6. stats February 2009 March 2009 Visits: 23,937 Visits: 54,368 Avg. Visit Duration: 0:20:28 Avg. Visit Duration: 0:20:03 Page Views: 63,428 Page Views: 91,925
  7. 7. are we reaching creators? Forrester's Social Technographics®
  8. 8. curator’s perspective QUESTION: Have submissions from the general public enhanced/contributed to your curatorial goals for click! I? ANSWER: When they’ve been good, they have…Since we see so many pictures, and spend so much time either looking and not looking at them, it’s a BIG challenge to get people to take a step back and to try and figure out how and why they work… Which is why we’re working so hard to get beyond the “cool picture” discourse. Marvin Heiferman, Curator, click! photography changes everything
  9. 9. staff effort for public submissions Marketing 14 hrs/week Monitoring 4 hrs/week Curatorial Minimal
  10. 10. open questions Will thematic calls-for-entry along with targeted marketing get the stories? Are we asking for too much?
  11. 11. how can we include the rest?
  12. 12.