…A blog within a blog.
Or more precisely, a blog about a blog, as I will be discussing my experience of blogging for the Whitworth Art Gallery in this post. As many of you will know, the Whitworth has been shut for the past nine months whilst it undergoes a major rebuilding programme. As part of this redevelopment, the gallery’s learning team will be provided with a new learning studio in which their educational activities can take place. My job whilst on the placement has been to research the uses of artist studios and write a blog about my findings.
When initially presented with the task I expected the role to be marketing based, writing promotional material in the guise of blog posts to advertise the Whitworth’s reopening. However, what I found was that the Whitworth’s social media profile is not about pushing an advertising campaign. Rather it is about creating an online community that is equally as important as the physical community that the gallery inhabits. My blog had a distinct audience; it was designed to inspire the learning team but also to engage art practitioners and educators, and to record activities for the Clore Duffield Foundation, the project’s sponsor. This meant that I was able to write about specialist themes, and look at my material in a reflective, inquisitive way that might not have been possible had I been writing a promotional piece. For each blog post I have researched an artist and their studio, or an exhibition about studios, and written about them in the context of their learning experiences.
As the Whitworth has employed a wide ranging social media programme during its closure, I have decided to focus on this for my placement review. I have been looking in particular at how the Whitworth, and other museum blogs, have shunned the idea of viral marketing in order to engage with their audiences in a more insightful, genuine way. What I have found is that the most successful museum blogs are those that open up the institution, showing its inner workings and inviting the online visitor to interact with the gallery at its core level. The Whitworth has committed to publishing a number of blogs by different departments in the gallery, and as a result they provide digital users with a holistic experience of the gallery, allowing them to engage with the Whitworth in a way that would previously have only been available to the Whitworth’s physical audience. Bearing this in mind, I would argue that blogging is not an activity for the marketing department, but a concept that should be adopted across departments and amongst all a museum’s professionals, in order to create an engaging and rewarding online experience.