Museums across the globe are taking advantage of advances in social media and online living to better engage and attract visitors. A recent story published in The Jerusalem Post looks at how museums in Israel are utilising social media platforms. We look at how other countries around Asia are doing the same.

Screenshot, Facebook timeline of Tower of David Museum in Israel dates back to 1099.

Screenshot: Facebook timeline of the Tower of David Museum in Israel, which dates back to 1099.

Click here to read the original article, titled “A (virtual) museum visit”, as published by The Jerusalem Post on 25 April 2012.

Social media platforms like pin boards

The article, published in The Jerusalem Post on 25 April 2012, states that we have reached an age in which, if an organisation does not have a website, it does not exist. Not only do Israeli museums have websites, they also actively use social media tools.

Susan Hazan, curator of new media for the Israel Museum and head of its Internet office, thinks of the various social media platforms as online pin boards that engage prospective audiences, drawing them to the museums without being physically present and encouraging conversation amongst potential visitors.

According to The Jerusalem Post,

In Israel, curators are among those leading the way to getting museums on the Web. Using all manner of online platforms, from interactive Facebook Timelines dating back to ancient times to entire multimedia art galleries available in online spaces, Jewish heritage and culture is accessible even to those who are thousands of miles away.

Prestigious Chinese museums are Weibo users

Twitter-like Weibo, named after the Chinese term for “micro blog”, is the most popular social media platform in China. The Palace Museum and the National Museum of China were among the first institutions to sign up for a Weibo account, and today, both of them have over 900,000 followers. Though these large museums have English websites, most of the content they publish on Weibo is in the local language.

Screenshot, the Summer Palace Museum has over 900,000 followers on Weibo.

Screenshot: The Palace Museum has over 900,000 followers on Weibo.

Operators of the museums’ Weibo accounts believe that the platform is a great way to communicate directly and on an equal footing with the public. Questions about tickets and regulations or collections and education programmes can be raised, answered and discussed online and in real time.

The rapid development of Weibo has fostered a change of roles for Chinese museums: over 100 museums in China now have Weibo accounts, meaning that many of these institutions are gradually stepping down from the intimidating pedestals on which they were once placed and are attempting to actively engage with the public through cultural education and socialisation.

Australia: Sophisticated social media management

Social media use is so integrated into the daily management of Australian museums that they are even outlining their requirements and policies on their websites. As seen from the website of National Gallery of Australia, the institution clearly outlines its social media interaction guidelines. The guideline specifies, for example, that the gallery’s social media forums should not be used as a vehicle for business or self promotion, and comment that the removal of posts is at the gallery’s discretion.

Australian Museum also places great emphasis on its strategy for social media use: its managers and researchers conduct audience research regularly and publish the information gathered as a public resource. And in November 2010, Art Radar posted a story about The Powerhouse Museum’s “Ask A Curator Day”, where online visitors were encouraged to interact with the museum’s curators using Facebook.

Japan: Joint national e-museum

Though museums in Japan do have a social media presence, their messages are most often only written in Japanese, meaning that information is not accessible to the wider international audience. However, e-museum, a joint online museum, is available in English and offers possibilities for direct engagement.

The e-museum was launched by National Institute for National Heritage to provide high definition images and multi-language explanations of national treasures from four national museums in Japan – Tokyo National Museum, Kyoto National Museum, Nara National Museum and Kyushu National Museum – to the international public.

Screenshot, Japan e-museum, composed work from four Japan national museums, explains how to search a work.

Screenshot: The search function for Japan e-museum, composed of works from four Japan national museums.

Viewers can search for works, view slideshows and link to the content on this website without having to obtain permission. Visitors can also choose to view the collections of each museum through separate links.

Do you know of any innovative uses of social media by museums in Asia? Leave a comment below.


Related Topics: art education, art research posts, art and the Internet, Asian museums

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By Brittney

Brittney is a writer, curator and contemporary art gallerist. Born in Singapore and based in New York City, Brittney maintains a deep interest in the contemporary art landscape of Southeast Asia. This is combined with an equally strong interest in contemporary art from the Asian diasporas, alongside the issues of identity, transmigration and global relations.

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