It is with great pleasure that we publish the article and the project on Picasso 2.0, the research subject we proposed to Jacqueline for her final thesis for her Master’s. Our proposal was in two parts: the first was a kind of ‘audit’ o the museum’s presence on the social networks and the second was to suggest ways of improving it. The results went far beyond our expectations. And, quite rightly, the committee awarded the thesis its highest mark.
Thanks, Jacqueline, for the great work — and congratulations!
A few months ago I did the practice placement of my Master’s in Cultural Heritage Management at the Museu Picasso in Barcelona, combining my time there with the preparation of my final project, ‘A Museum without Walls. Towards a more dynamic Museu Picasso Barcelona through the web 2.0 .’
The main aim of the study was to analyse the 2.0 environment, which had been set up six months before, and put forward actions to improve it. This would not have been possible without the positive attitude of the Museum, its commitment to keep on getting better and its willingness to accept potential criticisms and proposals. I would like to share the main conclusions of this analysis. The full thesis and an executive summary and presentation are available on Slideshare.
Title page of the Project
What are the results of the analysis?
First of all, I think the most significant aspect is that the Museum has a real 2.0 strategy. There are few museums in Europe that have such a clear strategic vision and are implementing it with such thoroughness and good organization. The global approach to the issue is an important part of its success.
The Museum’s presence on the Web 2.0 is more extensive and consolidated than that of other museums of the same type. Compared with a number of other museums devoted to individual artists (the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the Magritte Museum in Brussels, the Munch Museum in Oslo and the Rodin Museum in Paris) and the other Picasso Museums, the Museu Picasso in Barcelona is in a lead position. This leadership is relative, however, since the Museum is also present in other contexts, virtual and physical, local (art museums in Barcelona) and global (major museums in the 2.0 environment).
A product of the overall strategy, the approach is very coherent and the 2.0 presence is good, with a high level of contributions and interactions. Analysing all of the networks in detail, I found that some function basically as centres of resources directly generated by the Museum, such as the blog, Flickr, YouTube, Delicious and Slideshare, while others serve primarily as channels of information, such as Facebook and Twitter. I also noticed that, curiously, the increase in the number of fans does not generate a proportional increase in interaction.
Of all the networks analysed, the blog is the key: it serves as a tool for dissemination, a discussion space and a means of creating content. It is, in effect, the very heart of 2.0, the main engine for generating content and at the same time an important showcase. In addition, the blog ties in to all of the other networks with widgets and links, allowing a good view of Picasso 2.0.
I did feel there was a need for more and better quality pictures and videos on Flickr and YouTube (although this is something that has now improved), and for more dynamism on networks such as Slideshare and Delicious. At the same time, the Museum should not lose sight of the fact that 2.0 is part of the larger whole that is its overall communication. The revitalization therefore has to go beyond 2.0: there has to be coherence between all of the channels of communication. In the case of the Museu Picasso in Barcelona, this coherence is still not optimal, in that the more traditional offline communication and what is happening online could be better connected. That said, the digital channels are well referenced and linked to each other.
What proposals do I have?
The project brought to light a whole range of improvements, starting with the consolidation of existing networks (adding more content, encouraging debate, etc). In parallel, more tools and activities could be added, such as social tagging, podcasting, a virtual classroom, the posting of Museum visitors’ comments and so on. My project is, on this particular point, a letter to Santa Claus, since the Museum does not at present have sufficient resources to implement all of these proposals at once.
A very rich theme here is the evaluation of 2.0. Museums need to know if their Web 2.0 involvement is a success, but how do they find that out? The purpose of a Museum is to preserve the heritage, exhibit it and carry out research. Value here is unquantifiable and hard to measure. To evaluate its 2.0 presence, a museum has to know what it wants to assess and how to do so, making a list of indicators and then looking for appropriate assessment tools. Regular evaluations are important if trends are to be detected. The project proposes a checklist with the corresponding indicators and assessment tools.
A few conclusions that may be useful to other institutions
The results of the work may also serve as an example for other museums interested in getting started or enhancing their presence in the world of 2.0. Some key concepts:
- The museum has to accept the visitor as an equal partner. The willingness to enter into dialogue with and embrace new content suggested by visitors must be honest and real.
- It is worth planning strategically: in other words, treating 2.0, and even better all communication, as a whole.
- This also goes for evaluation of the institution’s current position — that is, its specific needs and capabilities (financial and human resources).
- The museum must be able to generate new content that is interesting to users.
- It is very important to involve all of the museum staff in 2.0. We are talking here about ‘internal energizing’.
- Actions must be evaluated on a regular basis and conclusions drawn.
By applying these concepts (and a lot more!), the Museu Picasso in Barcelona has become a Europe-wide leader in the use of Web 2.0 — a cutting edge, innovative Museum that breaks with established patterns and looks to extend its scope beyond its walls. Without a doubt, these are qualities that would have delighted Picasso himself. Imagine, then, how Picasso would have painted his Museum without walls!
What experiences have you had in the use and promotion of social networks in your institution?
Do you have any key concepts, any dos and don’ts, to share?