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community Archives - Engaging Museums by Dana Allen-Greil

Podcast: O Say Can You Sing? YouTube Contest

July 28, 2010 | By | No Comments

The Smithsonian’s first YouTube contest was created to dispel the notion that history is boring and to engage people with the story of their flag and national anthem. After being closed for nearly 2 years of renovations, the museum was looking to make a splash with the debut of a state-of-the-art home exhibition for the Star-Spangled Banner. Partnering with USA WEEKEND for marketing muscle, we received over 800 eligible entries and thousands of people rated and commented on their favorite singers. The grand-prize winner performed at the museum and at the Orioles game in Baltimore on Flag Day.

This project won an American Association of Museums Gold MUSE Award for outstanding achievement in museum media in the category “Community.”

Listen to a podcast interview of me by Jonathan Finkelstein of LearningTimes for MuseumTimes.org.

Small Towns and Big Cities: How Museums Foster Community On-line

April 13, 2010 | By | No Comments

This paper was originally published for Museums and the Web 2010. (See citation and Creative Commons information.)

Abstract

The early years of the Internet offered museums new possibilities for reaching broader audiences, and yet the anonymous character of most on-line interaction posed significant challenges for those who sought to foster a sense of community in the digital realm. In recent years, social media and other new tools have enabled museums to more successfully cultivate on-line relationships and even blur the lines between their physical and virtual communities. Borrowing terminology from German sociologist Ferdinand Tönnies, this paper uses the archetypal qualities inherent in traditional village life (Gemeinschaft) vs. life in big cities (Gesellschaft) as a framework for understanding museum approaches to on-line community. While the formally constrained (gesellschaft) expert-novice relationship that has so long been the paradigm for museums is still valued, we find compelling reasons to also explore the potential of gemeinschaft “whole person” interactions to change the nature of community relationships with museums. Using this framework, we review examples from the National Museum of American History and other museums using technology to foster community.

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