Welcome to the Museum (People) Blogosphere

BlogHer Original Post

In recent years many museums have begun to emerge from their longtime stodginess in favor of exhibits and activities that appeal to, well, people. In the 1960s and 1970s, museums embraced more interactive exhibits--inspired, no doubt, by the success of Charles and Ray Eames's exhibit Mathematica, which brought complex math to the masses (although not without, I noticed on my last visit to the exhibit, at least one sexist joke in the labels).

Institutions like The Exploratorium and the California Museum of Science and Industry (now the California Science Center) extended this mission with more manipulatives. Parents and kids alike enjoyed their romps through the galleries.

Fast forward to the present. Museums are embracing the Web, and now you can watch webcasts of Iron Science Teacher, go behind the scenes with the Smithsonian's Office of Exhibits Central blog, and learn about art from the assiduously edited Eye Level, the blog of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Museum employees and aficionados are jumping into the blogosphere as well, championed in no small way by Jim Spadaccini of Ideum. Women make up a large portion of this corner of the blogosphere. It's no wonder--women have long been the forces driving education (in art, history, and--yes--especially science) in museums, and the museum professional blogosphere is very much about sharing ideas and learning from one another.

Here's a sampling of the best:

The Museum Detective writes about museums and interviews fascinating museum people. Don't miss her series of blog posts on museum women (a topic so near and dear to my heart I wrote my dissertation on it).

Sheila Brennan's blog Relaxing on the Trail also provides excellent insights into museums and collecting. I especially enjoyed her recent post on women stamp collectors.

Mª Soledad Gómez Vílchez blogs (in Spanish) at MediaMusea about the possibilities Web 2.0 holds for the cultural sector. For those who aren't fluent in Spanish, the blogger kindly includes an "automatic translation" link to an English version.

If you read Portuguese (or have a good translation program), you should check out Ana Carvalho's blog No Mundo Dos Museus, where Carvalho blogs about a wide range of museum topics, including conservation, exhibition documentation, registration, education, management, marketing, and tangible and intangible patrimony. She invites everyone to join in the discussion.

Among my favorite museum blogs is Nina Simon's Museum 2.0, which addresses quite a few different topics, among them games and books, but which focuses on the ways Web 2.0 philosophies might play out in physical museums.

Into art? Visit e-artcasting. This Spanish/English blog "is a non-profit research project on sociable technologies in art museums from all over the World."

Don't miss Lynn Bethke's chatty and irreverent--but still thoughtful--blog Im in Ur Museum Blogz (Readin' n Analyzin').

I also enjoy reading Le carnet d'Ana, which is in--you guessed it--French. I find especially insightful her posts on museums and the web.

Don't let the fact that you're not multilingual limit your exploration of this corner of the blogosphere. My experience in the museum blogosphere as a mostly monolingual American has been very reasonable, as most of these bloggers have been able to read and respond to my comments left in English.

Leslie Madsen-Brooks, a recovering academic and an fledgling academic technologist, blogs at The Clutter Museum, Museum Blogging, and Green West Magazine.