Museums across New England are slowly catching up to other museums already dominating the blogosphere. The Peabody Essex Museum in Salem is the latest cultural institution in New England to add blogging to their already impressive social media repertoire. Their recently launched blog Connected, is destined to become one of the best museum blogs in the New England area and has already featured a wide range of voices, including Karen Kramer, Curator of Native American Art and Culture in a post about her upcoming exhibition on Contemporary Native American fashion and Eric Wolin, Head of Collection Management blogging about the documentation and transportation of approximately 300 objects the Peabody Essex Museum is lending to the Edo-Tokyo Museum.
What’s great about museums that embrace blogging is that they’re extending the visitor experience beyond the gallery walls. What I’ve learned from the many museum blogs I read on a weekly basis which include MoMA’s Inside/Out, ALL of the blogs published by the Walker Art Center, The Brooklyn Museum’s and the Studio Museum’s blogs among many others, is that blogging puts a personal face to institutions (not necessarily the ones in this sentence) that may already be seen as intimidating to many. Blogging engages visitors in ways that aren’t always possible in the galleries, such as taking visitors on a behind the scenes tour of a current or upcoming exhibition, an in-depth analysis or written history of a single work of art in the museum’s collection, or even inviting visitors and local bloggers to respond to their favorite work in the museum’s collection.
When it comes to museums that blog, the possibilities are endless. Taking into consideration that large museums such as the Peabody Essex employ numerous experts with diverse interests and backgrounds, publishing interesting posts about projects they’re currently working on or about ideas they may want to explore in a future exhibition, is never out of reach. Blogging allows staff and curators to share their vast knowledge about art and history with the general public in a casual, non-intimidating way, making information easily accessible to everyone.
With this new blog, the Peabody Essex Museum is showing us that museums aren’t as uptight as they make themselves out to be. I’ve already noticed many colorful personalities shine through published posts and looking forward to seeing many more as the blog progresses. In my next post, I will share a list of museums in New England that have already embraced blogging, as for others, let’s hope that they follow the Peabody Essex Museum’s lead.