This morning I received a link to a rather interesting article called “Museum’s new mantra: Connect with community”. A short Twitter discussion ensued between Jim Richardson, Jon Pratty and me. A conclusion for museums: “Conversation is king”. Later today Ryan Donahue added that if conversation is king, content should be its queen: “One by itself is uninteresting.”
Now I don’t know about the monarchy in your country, but ours has quite some difficulties connecting with the regular people. And I think that analogy applies to museums as well. And I don’t think social media can easily take that away.
As a museum about history, we face the situation that people look for definite answers. “When happened this or that?” etc. And they look at us for the answer. We’re like a secondary school teacher. How often have you had a real conversation with your secondary school teachers? (And: would social media have helped, had it been there?)
Conversation is king, definitely. It’s the core of social media. Something to talk about (content) is an inseparable part of conversation. Conversation, however, also requires equal partners. How can a museum about history in its role as source of information about history, be an equal partner in conversation with people who come to us for information?
Or, how can we truly engage in conversation with our audience? Conversation that is more than chitchat (“loved the new installation”) and in which both conversationalists are equal partners. How can we make our content the core of our conversation with our audience, without limiting them because of our role as “teacher”, and still maintain our status as a source of historical information?