Social Media and Museums

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Presented at the DMSW 2010 Conference at The Ohio State University.

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  • Museums, science centers, and similar organizations are utilizing social media tools for marketing. But are they missing an opportunity to utilize these tools to open up the process of creating and populating exhibits and in doing so turn visitors into participating contributors.
  • Ground Rules Using term Museum in an all-encompassing fashion but the ideas could be for Traditional museums (science, art, history, childrens), historical societies, visitor centers, zoos, and similarly minded institutions
  • Take those same social media tools and ideas about connecting with the audience and turn them inward. I have here, several examples on varying scales and that’s the key word, as it’s important to remember that many of the ideas here can be scaled up or down or the genesis of the exhibit can be taken and reworked into an exhibit that fits your space. What we have seen a lot of organizations do is panic and think they need to everything, utilize it all. What we always tend to consul with is that they should assess the available tools, consider who their visitors are, consider (realistically) who they want their visitors to be, and assess the time commitment they have available. And then choose the tools tht make the most sense for them.
  • 35% of U.S. adults overall (about 78 million people) attended an art museum or an arts performance in 2008. On the plus side, this is much higher than attendance of science or natural history museums, of course, which hovered below 40% for college graduates in 2006 and below 10% for folks without a high school diploma. It’s not just an issue of the recession either, in fact an anomaly is that recently there has been an uptick in museum attendance at some of the larger institutions, particularly among families.   The number of schools making museum visits over the past ten years has steadily declined. Some museums are attempting to combat this with pre and post visit activities for teachers to use in class. If we can find a way to extend this outreach though it will make students feel more connected and in turn make them more involved.
  • People fall back on technology and saw that that’s the reason no one is visiting when in fact, people are turning to technology for the things they would generally visit a museum for.           About 70 percent of U.S. adults went online for any purpose in 2008 survey, and of those adults, nearly 40 percent used the Internet to view, listen to, download, or post artworks or performances.           Thirty percent of adults who use the Internet, download, watch, or listen to music, theater, or dance performances online at least once a week. More than 20 percent of Internet-using adults view paintings, sculpture, or photography at least once a week.
  • Most museums are using social media tools to push information out. Some do it for marketing alone FaceBook Twitter
  • Using everytool they can to put things in the hands of the public
  • Encourage visitors to upload their images of their visit. It’s an easy way to make the visitor part of the conversation
  • Extending the stories and sharing parts of their collection that they simply don’t have the internal space for.
  • They are also using this venue to work with other area history based organizations – in this case the Sandusky Library and the Follet House
  • These are some of the more popular and “mainstream” social media tools. While there may be others that would be helpful, museums tend to be somewhat, as a whole, technologically conservative so starting with a proven and known entity might be best. Take those same social media tools and ideas about connecting with the audience and turn them inward. I have here, several examples on varying scales and that’s the key word, as it’s important to remember that many of the ideas here can be scaled up or down or the genesis of the exhibit can be taken and reworked into an exhibit that fits your space.
  • Many institutions have such strong silos that the idea of multiplatform content is simply too daunting. Multiplatform strategies are complex and multi-disciplinary, requiring a shared language and shared understanding of outcomes. The development of strategic planning methods is critical and very difficult. Resource allocation. How. How do you even start. Why. Why is this something that should be done. Museums are reluctant to make moves at times that puts “ownership” of their collections with others. Even if it’s virtual ownership. Reliability. People are not the most reliable sources. Wikipedia is great but it shouldn't be taken as cannon. And I think the issue to get past is leaving the true history to the professionals and relying on people to share their life experiences, which can be in a way, historical.
  • It’s a very valid concern that needs addressed. And unfortunately there is no catch all answer. About the best thing that can be done is to establish some sort of gatekeeper through which everything flows. I don’t think, for the most part people would intentionally provide bad information, they probably don’t even realize what they know isn’t accurate. With things like personal stories and photos, you have to have a level of trust with your audience.   But for more true historical documents, there needs to be a verification process.
  • Creates new, engaging learning and storytelling opportunities. Personalizes the museum experience and creates a stronger connection with the visitor It is, or can be, cost effective. You are not only finding multiple outlets for content and _________ but you also end up with this “engine” that can be re-purposed over and over. Green? Makes your collection portable, and extends its’ reach into the community.     Community collective consciousness - While this is a break for museums in the way that they traditionally plan and curate, “crowdsourcing” design elements, stretches their thoughts and processes. It also speaks to the way that people are now more conditioned to function, people aren’t content to be talked to, they are more interested in being talked with. They want to be part of and help direct the conversation and this is a way to do that. It’s easy.   It gives you a renewed excitement for your materials and an interest in your work.      
  • In turning to social media as an exhibit creator, museums are helping visitors take a more active role in their museum experience by turning them into contributors, and by extension marketers. Multiplatform content creation and distribution is a no-brainer in our sector - particularly in times of global financial pressure. Until there is a real impetus to make EVERY activity valuable across the value chain of distribution, it will remain an activity which the creators of blockbuster exhibitions do well and the rest of us wonder about!
  • ARTscape http://www. secondstory .com/portfolio/works/ artscape A “Wand” provides an audio tour and also allows visitors to catalogue their favorite pieces of art in the collection. This transports online where the visitor can get more information and then share their experience.
  • What does this do?
  • This is something that could be done with an iPhone or other mobile device.
  • http://www. ideum .com/interactive-exhibits/ multitouch -multiuser-mapping-exhibit/ A surface shot of a Yahoo! Maps and Flickr mashup built for a multitouch table exhibit. The exhibit opens in early March at Vulcan Park and Museum in Birmingham, Alabama. The images can be resized and rotated with gestures. The "orb" controller changes the map view and can be positioned and orientated anywhere on the map. You can learn more about this multitouch mapping application on our portfolio site.
  • Art Installation “ Take Your Time: Olafur Eliasson” At MoMA Site that accompanied the MoMA exhibition of the same name. The exhibition closed on June 30, 2008. However, the Website includes images taken by visitors who were given special cell-phone cameras to wear that document their journeys through the show, thereby depicting a candid and experiential view of the exhibition (and one that is in accordance with the artist?s practice). Could argue that it was more of an art project, but the idea is there.
  • Art Museum Useage - Australian Learning to Love You More is both a web site and series of non-web presentations comprised of work made by the general public in response to assignments given by artists Miranda July and Harrell Fletcher. Participants accept an assignment, complete it by following the simple but specific instructions, send in the required report (photograph, text, video, etc), and see their work posted on-line.
  • Brings together local history organizations, the local newspaper, historic organizations,
  • Put out a call for participants using their social media tools because they wanted to expand their reach beyond the regular people who came into their (rather small) physical space. They wanted to follow on the NPR StoryCorps idea and collect oral histories of people who worked in the Rubber Industry.
  • Collected Oral Histories, focused on rubber workers. Idea good. Site design bad. http://www.summitmemory.org/cdm4/results.php?CISORESTMP=results.php&CISOVIEWTMP=item_viewer.php&CISOMODE=grid&CISOGRID=thumbnail,A,1;title,A,1;contri,A,0;descri,200,0;none,A,0;20;interv,segmen,none,none,none&CISOBIB=title,A,1,N;date,A,0,N;interv,200,0,N;none,A,0,N;none,A,0,N;20;relevancy,none,none,none,none&CISOTHUMB=20%20(4x5);relevancy,none,none,none,none&CISOTITLE=20;title,none,none,none,none&CISOHIERA=20;interv,title,none,none,none&CISOSUPPRESS=0&CISOTYPE=link&CISOOP1=all&CISOFIELD1=relati&CISOBOX1=Rubber+Division+Oral+History+Series&CISOOP2=all&CISOFIELD2=interv&CISOBOX2=&CISOOP3=all&CISOFIELD3=descri&CISOBOX3=&CISOOP4=all&CISOFIELD4=CISOSEARCHALL&CISOBOX4=&c=all&CISOROOT=/rubber
  • This is an extension of the physical exhibit that explored the “life” of one house. It invited people to perform research on their house, gave them the tools to do it, and then asked them to submit their findings back to the museum. Has tools where people can create their own version of the exhibit installation. This makes the museum a place of inspiration and ties the visitor who uses these tools to the museum, as it becomes a point of reference. http://www. mnhs .org/exhibits/ openhouse / toolshed . htm
  • Twitter Walls are a relatively easy thing to create and they are great because they provide the multiple content outlets and offer a conversation point. While it’s not exactly an exhibit per say, it can be used as the conversation about the exhibit   You can place a monitor in an open space, or for a larger impact, project onto a blank wall. There are a number of aggregators (Cover It, Scribble, Friend Feed) that can pull the various mentions out and place them into a running display.   By encouraging people to participate, particularly in the space you have a chance for immediate feedback from visitors, you can offer visitors immediate reactions, and you’re enabling conversations to spark up in your space and virtually.   Berlin Twitter Wall – Customized Or SXSW
  • Museums are often quiet places or if there is conversation it’s usually with the people you are visiting with. They are trying to open up the experience. While it’s hard for people to just turn to one another in that setting and say, what do you think of that, it’s a little easier to invite them to communicate electronically. Capturing those conversations through a Twitter Wall is one way to share that conversational experience.
  • SXSW set up giant screens across the festival and invited people to have this mass communication with these walls as the hub.
  • Geocaching – Taking an object and hiding it and then having someone else find it via GPS co-ordinates.
  • The Maryland Science Center created a maze that you use geocaching to get through. Each persons experience is different and they way you direct that experience details what you take away from the exhibit in terms of knowledge. Granted this isn’t perhaps a social media tool but it does encourage visitor interaction and has components that carry over into the “real” world. http://www. geocaching .com/seek/cache_details. aspx ? guid =ee3b6a6e-ae93-469c-a777-358ce645cba8   http://www. gpsmaze .com/
  • Steve is an open source folksonomy-style social tagging system developed specifically for museums. The idea is to allow visitors to the web site to tag artwork with terms meaningful to them. That gives visitors a sense of ownership in the site, as well as providing the museum with a rich research tool to see how the art-viewing public categorizes a piece rather than how a curator does. As with the Mercury system, Palantir developed a thin wrapper around the steve system to expose it on artwork nodes. Authenticated users are able to add both new tags and popular tags from other users to any artwork, using either an in-line or pop-up form. New tags are reflected immediately both on the artwork and in the site-wide tag cloud . Steve is also used on the Roman Art from the Louvre exhibition site.
  • Brooklyn Museum of Art Allows you to browse and search their collection. What’s interesting is that it was created by a Patron. They had the idea and approached the Museum with the proposal. The museum supplied access to the materials and the Patron did the rest. Gives users control over their experience Brooklyn Museum launched yesterday, announcing BklynMuse , a program of new "Smart Phone Customized Gallery Tours." The program generates itineraries for visitors based on initial selections of works that interest them, allows them to access information as well as to "annotate" objects, and create tours that can be shared with others. "Through the aggregation of data provided by many visitors and their individual tastes, the guide is designed to grow more intelligent as more visitors use it and more data is supplied," a press release says. http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/community/blogosphere/bloggers/2009/04/17/brooklyn-museum-api-the-iphone-app/
  • Social Media and Museums

    1. 1. Social Media and Museums Turning Visitors into Contributors
    2. 2. <ul><li>Museums, science centers, and similar organizations - are they missing an opportunity to utilize social media to open up the process of creating and populating exhibits? </li></ul>
    3. 3. <ul><li>Museum = </li></ul><ul><li>Traditional museums (science, art, history, children's), historical societies, visitor centers, zoos </li></ul>
    4. 11. Social Media Tools <ul><li>What is being done? What can be done? </li></ul>
    5. 12. The Need <ul><li>Museum attendance is down </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Arts” Museums - 35% attendance </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Science/History – 40% attendance </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>10% attendance without H.S. diploma </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>School visits are way down. </li></ul></ul></ul>
    6. 13. Supplanting the Visit 40% of adults used the Internet to view, listen to, download, or post artworks or performances. 30% of adults who use the Internet, download, watch, or listen to music, theater, or dance performances 20% of adults view paintings, sculpture, or photography at least once a week.
    7. 14. What is Currently Being Done <ul><li>Marketing </li></ul><ul><li>Franklin Park Conservatory </li></ul>
    8. 17. What is Currently Being Done <ul><li>Enhancing Visitor Interaction </li></ul><ul><li>COSI Columbus </li></ul>
    9. 19. Enabling visitors to share their enjoyment <ul><li>Indianapolis Museum of Art </li></ul>What is Currently Being Done
    10. 21. What is Currently Being Done <ul><li>Extending Their Physical Exhibit Space </li></ul><ul><li>Sandusky History Center </li></ul>
    11. 24. Using Social Media Tools <ul><li>What Can Be Done? </li></ul>
    12. 25. Challenges <ul><li>Silo-ed content </li></ul><ul><li>Outcome sharing </li></ul><ul><li>Strategic planning </li></ul><ul><li>Resource Allocation </li></ul><ul><li>How </li></ul><ul><li>Why </li></ul><ul><li>Ownership </li></ul><ul><li>Reliability </li></ul>
    13. 26. Concerns <ul><li>How do you verify the accuracy and authenticity of visitor-contributed content? </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>How do you verify the appropriateness of visitor-contributed content? </li></ul>
    14. 27. Benefits <ul><li>Creating new learning opportunities </li></ul><ul><li>Personalizing the experience </li></ul><ul><li>Cost-effective </li></ul><ul><li>“Green” </li></ul><ul><li>Collection portability </li></ul><ul><li>Community collective consciousness </li></ul>
    15. 28. Multi-Platform Museums <ul><li>Turn visitors into active contributors </li></ul>
    16. 29. Enable visitors to share the highlights of their experience with others <ul><li>ARTscape </li></ul>
    17. 35. Enable visitors to add to the content of an exhibit <ul><li>Ontario Science Center </li></ul>
    18. 38. <ul><li>Take Your Time: Olafur Eliasson </li></ul>
    19. 39. <ul><li>Learning to Love You More </li></ul>
    20. 41. Enable visitors to become the exhibit <ul><li>Summit History Project </li></ul>
    21. 44. Enable visitors to use the exhibit as a springboard for their own interests <ul><li>Minnesota Historical Society </li></ul>
    22. 46. Enable Visitors to Direct the Conversations <ul><li>Twitter Walls </li></ul>
    23. 49. Enable visitors to direct their experience <ul><li>Maryland Science Center </li></ul>
    24. 51. Exhibit Tagging Steve.Museum
    25. 53. iPhone Apps The Brooklyn Museum of Art
    26. 55. Immediate Actions <ul><li>Set up a WiFi Connection </li></ul><ul><li>Explore social media tools. </li></ul>
    27. 56. <ul><li>“ The future of the museum may be rooted in the buildings they occupy but to succeed, they will address audiences across the world and will be a place where people across the world will have a conversation. Those institutions which take up this notion fastest and furthest will be the ones which have the authority in the future.” </li></ul><ul><li>LSE Arts and Thames and Hudson 60th anniversay discussion The Museum of the 21st Century Tuesday 7th July 2009 </li></ul>

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