Percolations: Museums and Social Networking Sites, Part IV

Note: This is part IV of a series. Read part I, part II, and part III.

Now that we’ve considered the museum presence on Facebook, MySpace, and Flickr, let’s take a quick look at a few other social networking sites.


Chances are, even if you don’t know it, your museum is probably already on the video sharing site YouTube. Go ahead–open a new window and do a search for your institution’s name. You’ll probably find some stuff you like–and some that you really don’t. And some footage inhabits that hazy middle ground: that grainy video of children playing in what seem to be dimly lit and noisy science center exhibits may encourage some families to check out the exhibits, but might discourage others.

If you museum wants to share a more polished product on YouTube, participation in this virtual space may require more time and resources–a decent video camera, video editing software, and staff time and expertise–than some of the other sites considered in this series of posts.

So what are museums and museum associations doing? MoMA is using YouTube to showacase artists’ videos, and last year asked YouTube users to winnow down the number of videos for an exhibition.
The best thing about YouTube is that it’s viral; it’s very easy to share links to YouTube videos, and just as easy to embed a YouTube video on any side that accepts HTML. Accordingly, your museum’s video can spread incredibly quickly throughout the blogosphere.

The Ontario Science Center has a channel on YouTube, as does the Tech Museum of Innovation, but the two institutions are using YouTube in very different ways to reach (I’m guessing) divergent audiences. Ontario showcases its exhibits and goings-on, while the Tech shares interviews with experts in genetics. Here are two of their videos.

From the Ontario Science Center:
From the Tech Museum:
Which do you think is more successful, and what do you think these two museums hoped to achieve by posting videos on YouTube? Go check out the rest and share your thoughts in the comments of this post (or if you have a blog, write your own post and link back to this one).The American Heritage Museum in Britain posted this kind of cheesy video to promote its exhibitions:
And the Mountain-Plains Museum Association is collecting museum YouTube videos on its MySpace page.These examples, of course, represent just a sprinkling of the museujm videos out there. Know of other museums using YouTube? Leave links to their video in the comments of this post.


Twitter seems one of those applications that you either “get” or really, really don’t. Twitter allows people to post messages of up to 144 characters on the site. Friends can “follow” each other’s messages, creating a community timeline. I find it fun to find out what my friends around the country are up to, but the whole public timeline thing is a bit overwhelming.

Nonetheless, organizations are turning to Twitter to get the word out on their activities. Take, for example, this Twitter page from the Los Angeles Fire Department:

Nina Simon has an excellent post about possible museum uses of Twitter.

While posting fairly frequent “tweets” (what Twitterers call their brief messages) may be a good way for museums to keep fans updated on museum projects and events, these tweets do disappear very quickly from the timeline; that is, they don’t stay in Twitterers’ view for very long.

What are your ideas for Twitter?


LinkedIn is a professional networking site where users invite people they know professionally to connect with them and even vouch for their work. The hope of many users is that their friends–or their friends’ friends–are connected to someone influential in their field, someone who might help them.

I’m not an active user of LinkedIn–it’s just not that popular among academics, from what I’ve seen–but it seems to me that LinkedIn would not only prove useful among museum professionals who are looking for work, seeking greater connection in the museum community, and to exchange resources, but also for museums looking for donors (of money, art, technology, or other resources), for guest speakers at events, for heads of local organizations that might bring their members to the museum, and more.

Are you using LinkedIn? If so, how?

On to part V. . .final percolations.


  1. hanny - jakarta, indonesia says:

    Hi, Leslie!

    I found your blog from The Attic’s blogroll–and I couldn’t ask for more! You have written such a comprehensive posting, with lots of great thoughts & ideas…

    I am interested in museum and museology, but haven’t got a chance to pursue a degree on the subject formally. However, I have just taken my first step in collecting knowledge on museology; and this blog will definitely become one of my most-trusted reference.

    Thank you for sharing these wonderful thoughts!


  1. […] Leslie. “Percolations: Museums and Social Networking Sites, Part IV.” Museum Blogging, July 8, 2007, […]

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