Ask a Curator

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Ask a Curator was a worldwide question and answer session with curators from some of the world’s leading museums and galleries, it took place on Twitter on September 1st.

The project followed the ‘Follow a Museum‘ day which I developed earlier this year and which also took place on Twitter, with that event we simply encouraged individuals to look at the cultural venues which tweet and to follow a museum or gallery.

With Ask a Curator I wanted to do something which asked more of both the public and the museums, something that could create dialogue and real engagement. I hoped that this project could give the public unprecedented access to the passionate and enthusiastic individuals who work in museums and galleries and also break down barriers within these institutions, where all to often social media is still the remit of the marketing department.

The project was only promoted through Twitter, and over a few weeks those signed up to participate mushroomed from a handful to over 300. Many institutions told me that this was the first time that their curators had used Twitter and some museums even set up accounts in order to take part in the event.

As well as the many institutions who signed up for the event, I also received enquiries from several individuals, but I took the decision to limit participation to museums and galleries as my aim was to promote these organisations.

As the event approached I struggled to keep up with the requests to take part, and if I was to do a similar event, I would certainly want to have a website which allowed each venue to sign up and upload their own information.

Another element fo the project which I think could have been improved was the press releases. In keeping with the decentralised approach to the event, I asked each museum to see what press they could attract, but I provided no press release template and we may have had better results if I had done this.

The event started very well, with a surprising number of tweets from the launch in New Zealand. As daylight reached Europe the tweets increased and it started to become hard to follow the questions by looking at the hashtag. At around 10.30am the hashtag suddenly started to trend as the top topic in the world.