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Flickr: A Case Study Pt. 3--The Brooklyn Museum

The last and final installment in this series has finally arrived! Delayed, in part, by the holidays. On that note, I hope your holiday season was a lovely one shared with friends and family. Best wishes in 2009! :)

The Brooklyn Museum:

Image courtesy of wallyg.

So, in the last post, I gave a glowing review to the MoMA’s Flickr presence after stumbling upon the iMoMA group. However, Shelley Bernstein, Manager of Information Systems at the Brooklyn Museum, and the person who runs their Flickr account, was kind enough to point out that the iMoMA page is not actually run by the museum itself. I’m wondering if that may explain the change in name that I noted (from iMoMA to Photomoma). I’m also wondering if MoMA has interacted with the people behind this project and, if so, what kind of reaction it gave. (Given the project’s change in name, my speculation is that the museum did not respond too kindly to the iMoMA group...but who’s to say?).

But anyway, this post is about the Brooklyn Museum, so let’s get to it. Full disclosure: the Brooklyn was one of the first museums I found on Flickr, and they are actually the inspiration for this case study, and in fact, just an inspiration in general. The Brooklyn Museum is a true leader in creativity, enthusiasm and innovation when it comes to experimenting with new media--just take a look at their ArtShare Facebook app or their recently-launched 1stfans Twitter membership program. Their programs communicate a tangible passion for art and love for their audience. The other thing I love about them is that they document all of their projects and progress in a series of staff-written blogs (how’s that for transparency?) which can also serve as blueprints for other cultural institutions.

The Brooklyn’s Flickr profile is really well done--you could even make the argument that they set [some of] the standards for museum social media presence. They’ve got a link to their Flickr group, as well as their  profiles on YouTube, MySpace, Twitter, and Facebook (including ArtShare). The museum is also part of what must be at least 100 Flickr groups, showing that they‘re active in the Flickr community outside of their own profile and group.

The Brooklyn’s profile showcases 3,151 items and the content is all the more engaging for its' variety--from a series of antique shots of Coney Island,to behind the scenes footage of the archives, to shots of after-dark art events and parties--the photos appeal to every subset of the museum’s fan base and portray it in a more dynamic and well-balanced way. You can tell this approach is effective because the museum has 2, 516 contacts and in a recent blog post, Shelley lamented the fact that the museum couldn’t accept any more contacts because it was approaching Flickr’s limit and had more requests than it could fill.

They’ve also got three museum groups, the largest of which has 1,056 members and 2,778 pieces of community submitted content, as well as 52 moderately active discussion threads.

But even more importantly, the Brooklyn Museum has something the other museums don’’t have: a page on the Flickr Commons.

The Brooklyn is one of only 16 museums (16! Why?!) participating in the Flickr Commons project. To be fair, the Commons was only launched last January (2008) and requires that the museum be in possession of a publicly-held photography collection, but I feel like those specifications probably apply to the majority of cultural institutions, or in any case, certainly more than 16.

The Commons is a project that exhibits crowdsourcing at its best. Museums post pictures from their public photography archives and users are asked to provide any additional or identifying information they may have about the photos. It is a project that harnesses collective knowledge in an interesting and powerful (empowering?) way. Not only that, it stimulates creativity and inspires people--Shelley writes on the museum blog of breathtaking mashups and panoramas created by group members and fans.

Anyway, I could probably go on about this, but this blog post has already gotten away from me. I’ll have to make the Flickr Commons into a separate post. In any case, I think it’s fair to say that I’m pretty enamored with the Brooklyn Museum.

Grade: A+

Need I say more?

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Reader Comments (2)

Thanks for the shout out - glad we made the grade! I think you'll see a lot more institutions coming into The Flickr Commons. It just takes people a little while to get organized...there's a legal agreement that has to be signed with Yahoo, you have to figure out what you are going to post, etc. Anyway, there's a lot of excitement about the project and we've heard there are a lot more on the way...so stay tuned. If you are interested, be sure to join the Flickr Commons Group on Flickr - there is some really interesting discussion going on there about the materials and it involves both the *fabulous* community on Flickr, the collection managers and webmasters of participating institutions and some of the Flickr admin peeps. We are doing a couple of releases this week into the Commons so stay tuned!

January 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterShelley

Great research and reporting on this. I didn't realize that museums are tapping into social networking sites like Twitter, etc. Even if only some are, it's an interesting sign of the times and smart outreach on the part of development/ IT directors such as Shelley. Certainly the two regional museums here on the Cape Cape Cod Museum of Art and Provincetown Art Association and Museum could benefit greatly from such an initiative. I just dropped 2 pieces off for a juried show at Cape Cod Museum of Art today and was told due to budget cuts there isn't going to be any opening reception. (Can't help wondering how the law firm that agreed to sponsor the show feels about what bang they're getting for their part.) Can't help wondering how much it could help small, relatively isolated museums and cultural institutions such as CCMOA to be able to reach beyond the peninsula for support and membership.
Apparently I need to take another look at Flickr too. Had found much need or use for it up to now...or so I thought.

January 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBernadette

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