Digital and hybrid events

In 2020, following the COVID-19 outbreak, we decided to adapt the format of International Museum Day and focus on digital activities, to promote the values of IMD while ensuring the safety of the public and staff alike. 

Considering the success of IMD2020 and the extraordinary participation of the museum community, and to continue to ensure the safety of staff and visitors, the following tips on developing online activities remain valid! Whether in-presence or online, don’t forget to share with us your ideas for the next International Museum Day!

REACH YOUR PUBLIC REMOTELY

How can museums ensure diversity and inclusion in their digital activities, exploiting the potential of the web? Back in march 2020, we prepared a list of case studies and best practices in digital outreach that can inspire museums to bring their programmes online. 

If you are still struggling to find ways to reach and engage with your public online take a look at Connected to Culture, a toolkit we developed with Google Arts & Culture for International Museum Day 2020, to help organisations bridge the digital gap.

We also organised a webinar on Digital transformation gathering museum professionals from different countries to review topics like digitisation of collections and new opportunities for the public, museum education and lifelong learning online.

This list is by no means exhaustive, and since then museums have made great strides in their digital activities. If you have any suggestions or good practices to point out, please do not hesitate to contact us at icom.network@icom.museum 


THE VOICE

As we have seen, museum directors and curators have long started to narrate their collections themselves: initiatives such as “Ask a curator” or “Le passeggiate del Direttore” (The Director’s walks) recently promoted by the Egyptian Museum of Turin, are useful tools to give a personal touch to your digital activities. But what about the other, more discreet but fundamental, voices that make up a museum? Why not involve your entire staff, to talk about your collections or just about what is going on in the world right now? Or your visitors and volunteers, asking them what led them to love your institution, what made them feel included? To give you a contemporary example, the Museum of Ordinary People is inviting audiences to share their own experiences of life in the coronavirus crisis.


THE AUDIENCE

As we suggest in our step by step guide for organising IMD activities, we recommend you to target a specific public/demographic (such as children, senior citizens, a minority, etc.). Among many others, San Francisco’s Exploratorium is offering online activities to help kids understand the science behind viruses and how we can protect ourselves against infection. But the forced isolation and lockdowns can affect fragile categories the most: think about older people for example, and the effects of fear and self-isolation on their overall wellbeing. The Baring foundation collected a list of great examples of activities that you can promote for the elderly or in partnership with care homes.

@ Exploratorium San Francisco website

THE MEDIUM

Once if you’ve chosen your target audience, you should consider how to reach them: which channels and languages does you public use? The digital possibilities are endless but remember that social media are not a synonym for accessibility.For example, to reach an audience with limited internet access at a distance, why not consider radio broadcasts (remember museum podcasts?): the monumental  “A history of the World” project by The British Museum comes to mind, but why not partnering with smaller, local partners? Or what about a miracle hotline to allow your audience to call you directly on the phone? Finally, the One Letter, One Smile initiative is connecting people who want to write a letter to the elderly currently on lockdown across France and Belgium, why not encourage your communities to send museum postcards to each other?


THE CONTENT

Last but not least: the content! Is it relevant to the audience and consistent with the medium? What is your goal: to tell a story, to amuse, to raise doubts? To really engage your audiences you should not just talk about objects, but about connections: what do your collections mean for who is listening? Are they relevant for them? Here’s three great examples on how to adapt your storytelling:

  1. This great twitter thread comparing Ancient Egyptian amulets and hand sanitizers
  2. The Carnegie Museum of Natural History Titktok account and their snail jokes, quite successful!
  3. The British Museum’s LGBTQ histories trail or the work of the V&A’s LGBTQ working group 
  4. The Met website section designed for, with and by kids, MetKids

As a general recommendation, encourage your audiences to engage with your collections! An example that we cannot fail to mention is the call to action to recreate famous artworks from their own homes, promoted by many cultural heritage institutions (check out this article from the Getty Museum) and people have been sharing their creations on Twitter and Instagram using #TussenKunstenQuarantaine and #BetweenArtAndQuarantine.

The Astronomer, 1668, Johannes Vermeer, Musée du Louvre, Paris. Recreation by Ann Zumhage-Krause and her husband.