Selfies, masterminds, trends and hashtags as MuseumWeek aims to take Twitter by storm

By Ben Miller | 21 March 2014

Museums will take on Kate Bush, One Direction and celebrity gossip on Twitter next week as the MuseumWeek campaign tries to repeat past successes

A photo of a man dressed as a king posing in front of a castle
Henry VIII's selfie, as seen by Historic Royal Palaces© Historic Royal Palaces
The inaugural MuseumWeek seems something of a natural progression. The fascinating (and bizarre) back-and-forth of AskaCurator is an annual extolment of the immediacy Twitter can offer at its best, becoming the hottest trend in the world as long ago as 2010, while the more recent MuseumSelfie – involving numerous unwitting stuffed animals and dispatches from Russian galleries – even managed to made the most ubiquitous, narcissistic of trends seem fun.

MuseumWeek is perhaps aiming for more depth. A seven-day campaign, it ranges from A day in the Life, on Monday, to a final day centred on creativity. Each day has its own hashtag, and it’s co-organised by the social network itself.

“Twitter has asked museums to sign up and tweet each day using the different hashtag or theme,” says Mar Dixon, who, having created the two “incredibly familiar” aforementioned campaigns – both of which will be given their own days as part of MuseumWeek, on Friday and Saturday – is looking forward to seeing hundreds of museums in the UK, Italy, Spain and France share their stories alongside visitors and new fans.

"Those that know me know this is something I’m a huge advocate of.

"Anything that stops the stereotyping that makes museums stuffy and visitors feel they aren't worthy is a good thing."

Twitter organisers sought an element of approval from Dixon, which, as she points out, was a sensible idea given that CultureThemes, the colourful collaboration between museum professionals she takes charge of, spends much of the year exploring the sort of topics which will be covered during the forthcoming week.

"As a huge supporter of Museums and Twitter, how could I mind?

"I was a bit worried as the topics chosen are something CultureThemes does on a yearly basis but when I stopped and really thought about it – does it really matter? 

"AskACurator will still happen on September 17th and MuseumSelfie will happen again in January 2015."

Larger, more established venues provide some of the highlights. Historic Royal Palaces' imagining of a day in the life of Henry VIII includes an hour-long questions session with the King on Monday, while the Natural History Museum and the V&A are linking MuseumSelfies with their late openings on Friday.

But it's also a chance for some of the smaller, more specialist museums - most of whom are less well-known for their Twitter presence - to provide behind-the-scenes glimpses of some niche and curious collections. The Pencil Museum in Cumbria, Buckinghamshire's Roald Dahl Museum and the Time and Tide Museum in Great Yarmouth are three to mention.

"What is important is to hopefully reach more museums that might not be using Twitter or know how to jump into social media to feel comfortable throughout the week taking part, and to bring more potential visitors or advocates into the mix," believes Dixon.

"I am really proud that Twitter has seen the potential with the museum sector. Go us."

Visit the campaign online and follow the hashtag #MuseumWeek.

MuseumWeek by day:

March 24 – A day in the life (#DayInTheLife)
March 25 – Test your knowledge (#MuseumMastermind)
March 26 – Your story (#MuseumMemories)
March 27 – Buildings behind the art (#BehindTheArt)
March 28 – Ask the expert (#AskTheCurator)
March 29 – Museum selfies (#MuseumSelfies)
March 30 – Constraint drives creativity (#GetCreative)

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

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