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Galleries and the web

Author: Courtney Johnston, Director
Before I joined The Dowse I did a lot of work in the GLAMs (the galleries, libraries, archives and museums sector) and the web, and especially how organisations could use the social media to share their collections more widely and talk more with people. (I think the single most fun – and long-lasting – thing I’ve done in this area was help set up the National Library’s Twitter account, @nlnz, way back in the mists of time.)

This meant that over the Christmas break I was really interested to see a new report come out from the Pew Internet & American life projectArts Organizations and Digital Technologies (there’s a free PDF download there). Pew surveyed 1,244 American arts organisations on how they use the internet and social media.

Some little tidbits from the survey:

  • 99% of the organisations have their own website
  • 97% have a social media presence (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Youtube etc)
  • Of that 97%, 94% of these post photos about their organisation and/or its activities.

Among the benefits organisations identified was one I find very interesting: “Social media helps organizations clarify what they do, and better describe how audiences can engage with their mission-driven work”. On the flip side respondents identified that the most common negative outcome is “unfiltered public criticism of the organization” although “for the most part, organizations say they are able to cope with the new visibility, and have turned criticism into an opportunity to learn, engage, and improve their services.” It’s a no pain, no gain kind of ethos.

The full report is definitely worth delving into, particularly to read about concerns expressed by the respondents and see if you agree or disagree with them. 

Since coming back to work this week, I’ve particularly enjoyed two things New Zealand galleries are doing online at the moment.

One of these is the Sarjeant Gallery’s photo of the day blog. It’s a nice simple idea, and the photos of Sarah Maxey’s current dome installation are particularly appealing. (It would be remiss of me not to mention the lovely bags Sarah has designed for The Dowse too.)

The other is the regular feed that City Gallery Wellington has been running on Twitter of art events to look forward to this year. I’ve pulled together a selection using Storify, but it’s nice to see them pop up in your timeline every so often and think ‘Oh, yeah, it’s a new year! Look at all this stuff!’.

Courtney Johnston, Director

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