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Behind the scenes of the Teylers Museum

516 - Words about our Ning site by Jim Richardson

Websites for participants

While museums are creating opportunities for the public to participate online though their use of Facebook and Twitter, most museum websites haven’t incorporated this kind of interaction into their own websites.

Teylers Museum, the Netherlands’ first and oldest museum is one such museum. Their website offers the public all the pre-visit information they might need, but doesn’t seem to give the public the chance to participate in any meaningful way.

However, the Teylers Museum has another website, built using the social networking tool NING which breaks down the boundaries and brings the museum to life in a way their main website doesn’t.

The website invites anyone to participate by joining this mini social network of curators, associates and friends of the museum.

Herman Voogd of the Teylers Museum explains ‘We started to use NING to give all Teylerfans and our staff the opportunity to leave pictures and messages about the museum.

‘We like the idea of having both a traditional museum website and something which is more open. A blog, a photo-album where every member of staff has more freedom. On our NING website it doesn’t matter that the picture is not crystal clear or that the movie is amateurish.

‘The rule is to not spend a lot of time but share a lot of knowledge about the museum or the collections’.

Using NING as a platform gives the public the opportunity to participate not only by commenting on content added to the website by the museum, but also by starting their own conversations and sharing their own perspective on the museum.

Ultimately, I see all museum websites giving audiences the chance to participate in this way. This approach takes more time and effort than a traditional website, and many may worry about the resources that such an online community would require. But if a museum does not have time to participate in conversations with its audiences (even online) then I think it needs to reassess its priorities.

Read the full article here.

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