By Nina Simon
Confused about social media? Don’t know where to start? For the last two years, I’ve been hunting down great projects in and outside of museums that exemplify the themes of visitor participation, user-generated content, and flexible relationships between institutions and visitors.Here are some of my favorite museum projects that represent interesting, thoughtful experiments with Web 2.0:
The Bay Area Discovery Museum: A Lesson in Good Listening
You don’t need a big initiative to get involved with social media—you just need ears and a voice to add to conversations that are already happening. Jennifer Caleshu, head of marketing for a small children’s museum, is an active participant in local Web 2.0 parenting and recreational sites like Yelp!, and developed relationships in those online communities to build strong relationships with current and potential visitors.She recently started a blog for the museum, but her best work is in listening to what others are saying about her institution.She describes her social media strategy here on the excellent Museum Audience Insight blog maintained by Reach Advisors.
MN150: A Visitor-Generated History Exhibition
The Minnesota Historical Society developed an innovative permanent exhibition featuring the 150 most important contributions of Minnesota as nominated by regular people.Read an interview with the lead developer of MN150 here.
The Brooklyn Museum
The Brooklyn Museum is a leader in innovative social media initiatives, from the creation of Facebook applications to crowd-curated exhibits and a “posse” collection-tagging project.You can read three articles about their initiatives here or visit their community site here.
When the Library of Congress put some of their photo collection on the photo-sharing site Flickr, it opened up whole new conversations and interpretations of their content.Read more about it here.
ExhibitFiles is a social networking website for people who make and visit exhibitions.It is a living database of exhibit case studies and reviews and is useful for anyone looking for best practices in the field.
Museum blog types compared (with examples)
Beth’s Blog and the WeAreMedia wiki
The North Carolina Museum of Life and Sciences is doing a series of no- to low-cost experiments with Web 2.0 and documenting them here.
Science Buzz and Red Shift Now
The Science Museum of Museum and the Ontario Science Center each maintain impressive community sites that integrate real-time visitor feedback from the Web and the museum floor here and here respectively.
Teaser image by Shelley Bernstein on Flickr.