What we have learned – Reflecting on ‘Museums, Politics and Power’

DSC01078With the big Museum & Politics conference a few weeks behind us already, we, the project team, now took some time to look back. As we think all participants of the conference do, we are still in the midst of processing the many impressions, the great (and not so great) presentations, the conversations we had and the ones we should have had, all that in front of the impressive background of St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg. And, last but not least, being in Russia in these difficult times, gaining some first hand perspectives – and personal input – on the political situation.

And we also looked back at our social media adventure, which we started back in November 2013. Since then, we welcomed 27 authors who contributed with their own blog posts, and many, many more that engaged in conversations through comments on the blog, and even more so on Facebook and especially Twitter. The blog or single posts got mentioned at museum conferences and in many offline conversations, and we counted on average 400 blog visitors per day, with blog posts reads more than 3.000 times.
These numbers really surpassed our expectations, and we would like to say a huge thank you to all of you, as it demonstrates not just how important, but also how easy it is to start a truly international conversation. What’s needed? A bit of determination and imagination.

Of course there were also challenges: a tri-national event and a tri-national team, living in three timezones, with highly different backgrounds and experiences. We discovered that some social media channels worked well, others, like a LinkedIn group which we thought would help with the networking part, didn’t.

And we missed some conversations on the blog. We had hoped that many conference speakers would use it as a place to begin the conversation before arriving in Russia – but that proved challenging. We wanted more voices from around the world, about the whole range of issues that arose throughout the year. Each week’s news roundup provided much food for thought – we’d love to go deeper on any of those topics.

But what do you, the readers and contributors, think about the project? Did it add something? Did you miss something? What needs to be done better, and how?

We are thinking about how this project can be continued, as we believe our adventure really has just begun. At the same time we have realized the enormous amount of time a project like this needs. We had many ideas we couldn’t fully realize, but we are determined to further develop the project and to see where we can go from here. We want to revive our news roundups, although in a slightly lower frequency, but most of all we invite all of you to contribute! This place is for you, our worldwide colleagues. Share your paper or conference reflections with us, add topics you have missed, write about ideas you found inspiring, pose questions and challenge your colleagues.

Finally, we would love to share our experiences and ideas with ICOM national or international committees that are considering how to use Social Media to build discussions as a leading up to conferences or around your main topics, to share background information, to blog live from events and to provide a platform for exchanges among all your colleagues. Get in touch with Linda and Katrin to find out how we could help.

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