A year ago this week, I made my first blog post for the Walker and wondered aloud what audiences want from a museum blog and how the medium could serve our various communication needs (I posted on the “museoblogosphere“–a neologism that, alas, hasn’t taken off–here, and the discussion was followed up by Eric here, here, and here). Today there are around 60 museums blogging, according to Ideum, and the news stories about this trend have shifted from “Look, museums are blogging!” to broader discussions of challenges, opportunities and conflicts inherent in this kind of institutional channel for informal communications.
In a thorough and thoughtful piece in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times, David Ng digs into the topic. “Museum blogs suffer from a kind of split-personality syndrome,” he writes. “Are they civic forums or glorified marketing tools? Should they humanize the museum or enforce an authoritative distance? Perhaps all of the above.” Offering no definitive answer, he cites challenges of blogs like the Science Museum of Minnesota’s Science Buzz and their discussions around allowing political content–commenters who opposed the use of human cadavers in the touring Body Worlds exhibit or refuted the theory of evolution in a display of T-Rex bones–in a scientific blog, for instance. (We had similar discussions when commenters questioned the use of live animals in our exhibition House of Oracels: A Huang Yong Ping retrospective; we opted for transparency and openness, but decided to close comments a month after the exhibition concluded.)
At this one-year anniversary, I want to revisit some of my early questions in hopes that some of our own concerns–lack of robust debate in the comments, intermittent posting by Walker staff, etc.–can be clarified. What do you, blog reader, like about our blogs and what would you like to see more of? Got a favorite post? A criticism? Lay it on us.