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Wednesday 6 July 2016

Thoughts on museum blogging - be kind to yourself

Back in May we co-hosted Museum Hour with the wonderful Tincture of Museums – go check out her page it’s a museum loving feast with an eye to autism in museum.

One of the biggest concerns for those who wanted to start blogging was about finding the time to do so. In one sense this was reassuring as it meant that there were so many of you out there who have something to say about museums and want to get your voice heard. Yet  in another,  it was concerning to hear that museum lovers felt the need to put themselves under some pressure to get access to the museum blogging community, with the strains of temporary work, low paid and more competitive job market many are seeking to blog as a way to stand out from the crowd. In some respect blogging has been helpful to us but in others it has been a hindrance and why you’ll rarely hear me speak about my place of work. Blogging is ultimately meant to be an enjoyable and loveable experience.

We’re not going to lie, here at The Ministry we know how hard it is to keep on writing, finding content and putting it all together into a presentable format is time consuming. You’re probably aware that I work in a national museum as a sort of exhibition registrar and Kristin is studying for her PhD, so sometimes we do go a little bit quiet on the blog. It’s not because we’ve fallen out of love with doing so it’s just because sometimes our work life and personal life can be a bit more demanding that we had expected.

Museums are wonderful places that are often are static in their displays and in other times so fast moving that it’s hard to keep up. Working in South Kensington I often promise myself that I will visit that gallery/new exhibition across the road in my lunchbreak. Sometimes I do manage to venture out, other times I completely fail and realise I haven’t seen a new gallery in my own museum since it opened two years ago because it’s not on a route to a meeting room.

Then there’s the upkeep on social media, I do try to keep quite active personal profiles and keep up with what’s going on in the museum world. But often whole conversations about museum life go amiss on my timeline because I’ve been stuck in a two hour meeting or a cinema and suddenly we’re left feeling like I’m  the worst museum blogger because I haven’t engaged.

Sometimes it feels like the museum world is guilty of other museum enthusiasts a bit of FOMO (fear of missing out). There is now so much content and so much opinion that it can feel like an exhibition has opened, its content debated and closed within a heartbeat and you’ve missed it all. Branding on marketing posters rate permanent galleries as immediate ‘must sees’ and exhibitions posters now have stickered reminders of ‘last few weeks’. The countdown begins and suddenly you’re reminded more of what you haven’t seen than what you have.

Perhaps we’re not giving ourselves enough time to appreciate that museums are often little pockets where time can stand still. Often new permanent galleries are made to last upwards of thirty years, just because your friend or colleague has gone to comment on it doesn’t mean that you’re missing out. You’ll just be there when the crowds have calmed and it really can be that location of sanctuary that we often speak about.

As for social media, it’s a never ending stream and we’re never going to be able to catch every conversation, every debate and every single comment, but check in times like museum hour really help to focus attention. It’s great to spend the 8-9pm on a Monday engaging with the conversation and feeling like you are part of the community for the hour or a couple of minutes of it. Then there are great functions like storify that many bloggers use to capture the information that interests them into one stream. It’s a great way of reading up on the tweet s that has just disappeared into your timeline.

Perhaps this article is more of a reminder to be more gentle on myself. Sometimes it’s more important to leave the office at lunchtimes but sometimes you have to let life get in your way and miss out on the latest trend. I hope it can serve as guidance for us museum lovers and part time bloggers to not put too much pressure on ourselves and just take a moment. Blogging is there to enjoy and not to encapsulate at the end of the day most of us are not getting paid for it! Blogging is not a race to a the next opening, take some time to enjoy reading our fellows interpretations and thoughts or take advantage of museums online accessibility and when you have a moment pop in.
But remember when you are there physically or digitally, take it all in and enjoy.

Peace out  

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