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A year in the museoblogosphere…

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, […]

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.

  • I wonder if these blog entries will look as tired as some of this “art” in a decade or two. My favorite nadir was the string of bulbs tossed on the floor, “Untitled.”

    I as artist, can not be bothered to even title my piece. You are an idiot. You know that. I know that. I do not have to insult you, you insult yourself.

    But Arbus’ exhibit was worth the visit. More than I wanted to know about the light reaching her film, really, but there was the “Boy above Crowd” which made it all worthwhile.

  • Glad you found something you liked here, Tom. Sounds like it was a challenge.

    One of the questions I have about museum blogging is whether we’re writing for an audience who’ll be reading in a decade or so. I think the medium is about now–we’ve got leather-bound books and well-edited manuscripts, catalogues, and the like that can cover the historical–and, as such, I’m really not all that concerned about how “tired” it might look in a few decades. I am concerned about interesting, engaging, and relevant material that speaks to this time.

    Tom, you’re a blogger (http://fortboise.org/blog/): what’s your thought on the medium?

  • JT says:

    I want to comment on Tom’s fascinating blog, but unlike y’all, he doesn’t allow comments!

  • Zeke says:

    Howdy!

    A) Despite Ideum’s list, there are still less than a dozen art institutions blogging in English. The rest are variations, wannabes and personal blogs on art.

    B) I like opinion with a focus on information that you can’t get from the mainstream press. Commenting uselessly on an article in the NYTimes by writing ‘nice article here’ is something I don’t need to see ever again (although I am as guilty of doing it as anyone out there).

    C) As an out of towner, I’m not certain that I ‘get’ why you guys need five blogs. Couldn’t you just have one blog with categories? Are there people in Minneapolis who only go to the Walker to hear music and never step foot in any of the galleries? And what exactly is “GeneralGarden Dirt?”

    D) Then finally, can you guys add some of the multi-media (Walker Art Calls things I think?) either into the blog(s) or make the linkage fairly explicit. I always have a whale of a time trying to find, and then keep track of what, and where everything is. While it might be easy to you, to me it is sort of like needing to use one entrance for the galleries, a different one for a concert, yet a third (all the way down the block) for the store, and yet still a different one (on the other side of town) for a lecture. On the internet I prefer one entry point that leads off to everything else. Your tiny gif menu up top doesn’t cut the mustard for me.

    Beyond that everything else is swell.