Picasso 2.0 Under the Microscope: Findings of a Master’s Project

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!

Conxa Rodà

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!

Jacqueline Glarner

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?

  • Elena Villaespesa
    March 9, 2011

    Muy interesante el post Jacqueline!!! Es muy importante tener una estrategia y evaluar los resultados de actividades en la web social para seguir mejorando. Hace unos años, se ponia lo que surgia del departamento web en las redes sociales y ahora se va involucrando a mas departamentos, hay unos objetivos, una identidad corporativa y una personalidad en las conversaciones, los contenidos son mas elaborados y sociales. Es una oportunidad de crear comunidades y es fundamental ver si el museo esta “engaging” con estas. Es apasionante trabajar en el seguimiento de lo que ocurre en la web social tanto en las plataformas del museo como en aquellos espacios iniciados por los usuarios.

  • Jacqueline Glarner
    March 10, 2011

    Gracias, Elena! Tu comentario es un resumen excelente de la temática. Ojala más profesionales de museos vean las cosas como tú i como los responsables del Museu Picasso Barcelona!

  • Àlex Hinojo
    March 10, 2011

    Felicitats Jacqueline! M’imprimiré la tesi per llegir-la amb calma.

    Crec que la clau està en el que es diu al post, que els museus han d’acceptar els visitants com a “equal partners”. La voluntat de diàleg ha de ser real. Les xarxes socials, com tothom sap, no són només canals de difusió. El museu Picasso ha esdevingut un cas d’èxit per aixó mateix, per que ha après a escoltar la comunitat i a generar nous debats arran d’aquest diàleg.

    Un exemple, que em va agradar molt, és quan l’estiu passat el Pepe Serra va escriure un post en aquest mateix blog contestant a les queixes estiuenques dels usuaris.

  • Isabel
    March 10, 2011

    Quina alegria trobar aquest post avui!!! Sóc estudiant de primer curs del màster en Gestió del Patrimoni Cultural i tinc pensat fer el meu projecte sobre els espais virtuals d’una institució museística. M’agradaria posar-me en contacte amb la Jacqueline, sempre i quan ella no hi tingui inconvenient. Moltes gràcies!!!

  • Jacqueline Glarner
    March 10, 2011

    @Àlex: gràcies i estaria encantada de seguir la conversa à través d’una des les xarxes socials que compartim!

    @ Isabel: bona elecció del tema de projecte ;-). Cap problema si vols posar-te en contacte amb mi. Trobaràs el meu mail al final de la presentació del projecte a Slideshare.

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