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Sunday, 5 January 2014

MuseTube: Satisfying our Museum FOMO

When did YouTube become a vital part of a museums marketing strategy?  A recent outpouring of mini documentaries, behind the scenes peeks and advertisements have entered the stratosphere usually dominated by fancy posters lining the bus stops of London.

Unlike hour long BBC 4  documentaries exploring niche topics and asking probing questions these YouTube mini documentaries provide a quick snapshot of information for the social media generation. But the aims of such film clips fit uneasily across many museums mission statements, they are providing collections access, interacting on social media but do they increase footfall? It's difficult to tell, yet Museum's on Youtube or 'MuseTube's' are dominating our social media timelines. 

We're all aware that the majority of London's museums are accessible on Twitter and Facebook but few are taking advantage of the enthusiastic need to peruse museum videos whilst sitting at home in our pants.  Tate as always appear to be leading the 'Muse-tube' revolution, the field is dominated by their in- house 'Tate Shot's' team. Finding new ways to view the collection their Youtube channel features comedians exploring the galleries,celebrity bakers interpreting paintings and researchers explaining the importance of works.

But the videos are not made only  for the internet. If you decide to put clothes on and head into the galleries you will see that throughout Tate Britain and Tate Modern the films are displayed in those spaces where paintings are not. At Tate Britain  an odd corridor is filled with several screens showing the numerous curators discussing their favourite pieces and how the chronology of the rehang works.

The Science Museum have recently followed suit with  'Mind Maps: Stories from Psychology' where visitors are invited to watch the 2 minute video clip introducing the exhibition upon entering the space. Yet the same video was released on the Museum's Youtube, Twitter and Facebook days before it opened, acting as a  virtual invitation to the show. 

There is no doubt that with so much going on in London's museum these examples are comforting our museum FOMO (fear of missing out) and we're approaching galleries and exhibitions with a pre-conceived idea of what they will be like. Nonetheless this is a great tool that museums can use, gently dispersing our FOMO the Science Museum made sure that we didn't miss out when redeveloping the Shipping Galllery. When the permanent gallery closed in 2012 the museum made a lot of fancy cameras take 275 laser scans and two million point measurements to ensure that the space did not become a figment of imagination and provided an ever present virtual tour.

Thanks to the Horniman's YouTube team we've even been able to go behind the scenes and learn how to transport an overstuffed walrus to the seaside.

It’s also great to see museums and galleries using YouTube to express their politics and join in on a YouTube phenomenon. Led by artist Anish Kapoor and featuring the Serpentine, galleries do Gangnam style.

But perhaps the best selection of MuseTube videos comes from outside of the UK - the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia.  The medical museum's YouTube channel features clips like a ‘Mutter Minute’ and ‘Guess what’s on the Curators desk.' And they are definitely encouraging new crowds (We’re always free for a trip to Philly Mutter Museum!) and providing exceptional collections access that can hopefully influence others.

 MuseTube videos are finding exceptional new ways to engage with audiences and although they may or may not be increasing footfall they are helping us to conquer the fear of missing out and I am particularly thankful that I can explore collections in my pants.

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