#Svegliamuseo: How the Idea is Shaping Up

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So here we are, it’s 2014 and the time has come to ‘show our cards’, unveil the mistery… simply said, to do what we had promised we would do: publish the interviews with our contacts abroad, those  with whom we have been able to build a fruitful network and exchange of ideas over the past months.

Months during which we have learned more than we ever expected, and the project has shaped up and taken unforeseen directions – but always with the same goal in mind, that of recounting (and encouraging) the museums of Italy – despite all their problems – in the most positive way. It is with this perspective in mind that we have opened this session – titled ‘#svegliamuseo’ (truthful to the cause) – and its Italian pair, ‘Who’s already awake’, where we are collecting, and will do more and more so, those happy museum realities that have already crossed the bridge of social networks (Muse, Mart, Palazzo Madama, Triennale…). These are our ‘early adopters’: let’s follow their example.

The Foreign Museums

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[Taken from “Come, Let Us Go Boldly Into the Present, my Brothers & Sisters” by Michael P. Edson]

From the very beginning, the idea has always been for us to be a medium of positive examples able to reach those just recently approaching the digital world or wondering altogether where to start from. The questions we have been asking to answer to the foreign museums – some ‘standard’, some adjusted case by case – will focus on understanding how communication departments of prominent museums operate: how is their staff organized (and you might have some surprises here – numbers are not always as high as you might expect)? How are the diverse social media made use of? What are their strengths? Which the most successful activities? We hope that, tweet by tweet, a creative idea might arise, that a particularly popular board on Pinterest might tickle the desire to do the same. But what we wish mostly here is to help overtake the worst barriers – those in our minds. We can – we must – start even from scratch, even with few resources. “Think Big. Start Small. Move Fast”: I have borrowed this motto from a highly motivating slide-share by Michael P. Edson, Director of Web and New Media Strategies of the Smithsonian Institution, whom I want to thank especially for having strongly supported us ‘behind the scenes’. To go back to our subject, what is really important is your goal: it is possible to start even with just the will and the perseverance of one single person. Should results come, then you could start thinking about expanding and maybe even come to have, one day, an entire department committed to web strategies. Again, what is important is realize that the moment to start doing it is now.

 The Italian Museums

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The reason why I mentioned ‘single individuals’ is that it is with such people that we have been constantly in contact through our adventure – people  trying to do better with limited resources – and whom will be the’ stars’ in the second part of this blog section. We have asked the managers of museums abroad to ‘advice’ an Italian colleague on how to improve the on-line presence of his/her museum. Not all foreign museums though will have an Italian pair, while some might have two: we apologize for the inconvenience, but sometimes it just didn’t work out the way we wanted. Before we start – we would like to thank warmly all the museums that have agreed voluntarily to get involved in our project. We hope you will appreciate their eagerness to improve and be part of the change as much as we did. Some of them you surely already know for being very active on our Facebook group (I’m thinking of the Museo Civico di Maglie, e.g.).

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Allow me a short personal note to conclude with. When I decided to take part to #svegliamuseo I had just spent a year working overseas, having experienced several times, and first-hand, the enormous gap between the Italian and the foreign on-line strategies. Try look on-line for any foreign museum: you will often (always?) find a captivating web-site – to start with – with a home-page welcoming you with all the essential information you might be looking for (from the museum physical address to its contacts – simple but essential!; links to its social platforms will be clearly indicated; you will find updated and useful collection databases; and there will usually be a section called ‘Work with us’ – what an unknown wonder). Understanding that – in a global world – there will more and more be someone from the other side of the world looking for information on even the tiniest museum in Italy is essential: this information cannot be found only on site. Our museums must become populated on-line as well.

Hence, now more than ever, #svegliamuseo! Wake up!