Social Media is a necessity now for museums, but it can also be a theme for their exhibitions.
The marketing and communications department of museums had to be updated to succeed in the web-involved world we live in today, and so they did, creating social media platforms, and fueling them with content, building customized memberships, and social/cultural events, but does that evolution really translate to the museum inside? No, the museums themselves, despite all the other departments’ efforts, have remained the same. Fixed hours, fixed payment structure, limited variety of activities. Our society now needs to be able to touch, to interact, to take pictures and put them up on Instagram, they need museums to talk about the present, to relate to their interests, no to only focus on the past. They wan’t to participate, socialize, and be involved.
Judith Dobrzynski says, in an article for the Wall Street Journal: “future museum-goers won’t be satisfied by simply looking at art, but rather prefer to participate in it or interact with it.” So the challenge for museums is to achieve the balance between the traditional museum activity and structure with the social, cultural and participatory demands of the current society. And some are stepping up and conquering this new territory, where they will let you interact, create, touch.
One example is The Walker Center of Arts in Minneapolis, Minnesota, they have came up with “Open Field”, a summer program that transforms the Walker Art Center’s big, green yard into a cultural common, which means a shared space and collection of resources activated, managed, and cared for by the public for the benefit of all. Another museum that has created a space for creation and participation is the Dallas Museum of Art, with its Center for Creative Connections, a space that provides interactive encounters with original works of art and artists.
Social Media has played a big part on the transformation of museums, and not only as a mean of Communication and interaction, but also as art. We now have another style , the social-media art, a term that couldn’t have been created, say seven years ago, or even five.
This kind of art, is the post-modern kind that mixes all styles and all medias to create something new. It involves performances accompanied by Twitter feeds, paintings inspired by Facebook profiles, online works that evolve as people participate, videos compiled from postings on YouTube and more.
Many exhibits were created with Social Media as a subject, like “The Social Graph”, curated by the editor of Hyperallergic Hrag Vartanian and exposed in November of 2011 in Outpost, that explored the relation between contemporary art and social media as a medium, facilitator, and subject for art. Another example was the exhibition “Free”, at the New Museum in New York, that explores how the internet has fundamentally changed the landscape of information and notion of public space in the society.