This recent article from the New York Time’s scratches the surface of museums which are engaging in new social media to build new points of entry and continued interaction with visitors. The article features a smattering of museums across the country from the Brooklyn Museum and the Met to the Indianapolis Museum and SFMOMA. But the article only scratches the surface of the web content which museums are providing for their patrons. Most major museums, and many of the smaller museums have their own blogs which endeavor to open the backend of the museum which is usually opaque to the visitor. For example, recently the Getty blog, Iris, featured a short article co-authored by a member of its education and curatorial staff on the conservation of a bronze statue of Apollo from Pompeii. Articles such as these allow museum patrons a view behind the curtain through the eyes of the professionals who work with and teach these objects.
Museums also link these blogs to twitter accounts which allow them to advertise programming to larger audiences at a negligible cost. LACMA’s blog Unframed for example both highlights exhibitions and provides it’s staff with a new platform to share their passion for the art to which they have dedicated their lives.
One piece of data which the author of the article quotes in passing caught my attention and made me think of Google’s Art Project which allows internet users to explore museums from around the world. The statistic was: “Attendance at the Indianapolis Museum of Art in 2010 was 430,000 visitors, but its Web site had almost one million users who could view the museum’s collections, watch videos and contribute to blogs.” It is undeniable that the web is changing traditional ways of socializing, banking, communicating, shopping and viewing art. How much value added does the internet provide to the art viewing experience? What do museums still have to offer if every individual can view their favorite artwork from museums around the world from the comfort of their home and can even create and share his/her own collection of masterpieces?