April 13-17, 2010
Denver, Colorado, USA

The Impact of Blogs and Other Social Media on the Life of a Curator

Erika Dicker, the Powerhouse Museum, Australia


Museums are quickly adapting to Web 2.0, and engaging with a new on-line audience. Social media projects are being developed and used by museum staff, and curators are starting to explore this new space. When the Powerhouse Museum's curatorial department created their first blog, they had no idea what they were in for, or what challenges they would face. They also had little idea of how curators as a whole are participating in social media activities. This paper will use the Powerhouse Museum's 'Object of the Week' blog and a major international survey of curators to investigate how social media activities are impacting on curatorial practice.

Keywords: Curator, social media, blogs, museum, Web 2.0, survey


The rise in the number of people adopting Web 2.0 and social media has encouraged museums to explore these spaces and engage with this new audience. Efforts have centered on increasing on-line access to collections and the people who manage them. Openness and user centricity are core components of Web 2.0, and in response, museums are opening up their once strictly controlled content and collections, allowing users to curate for themselves (Kelly, Ellis, Gardler, 2008).

Museums are becoming more comfortable with an open culture, exploring ideas such as crowd-curated and sourced exhibitions, which are occurring more and more frequently. Museums have also begun sharing their collections in the social media realm, coming to the understanding that users want their content all in one place (Bernstein, 2008).

In the fast moving world of Internet technology, others are already looking at how to bring social media back into the museum. Nina Simon (2009) suggests that museums should now explore innovating backwards and bring social media type platforms back into the physical museum.

Access through the Internet has increased opportunities for communities to interact with museum objects while the trend to couple this information with social media sites has presented curators, and the public, with an array of new communication platforms. Curators in particular are now faced with engaging in increased two-way communication, previously the domain of staff working on public programs, outreach, or Web editing. Russo, Kelly and Chan (2008) claimed that "integrating social media into curatorial practice opened up previously restricted collections and communications to privileged participation by our on-line audience."

So where does this leave the museum curator? Are curators integrating social media into curatorial practice? If so, how are they interacting in these spaces, and what impact does all this have on a curator's role and the collections they care for?

This paper will use the Powerhouse Museum's curatorial blog, 'Object of the Week' and an international survey of curators to explore these questions.

'Object of the Week'

Technically the Sydney Observatory blog (, run by curator Nick Lomb, is the Museum's first curator-led blog. In 2009, 'Object of the Week' ( was the first curator-led blog to be launched out of the main Museum building. The goal was to engage with an on-line audience in conversations about the collection and to expose some behind-the-scenes stories that curators encounter. The blog provides a platform for content that previously had no other outlet and contains rich collection- orientated material that appeals to both casual readers and those interested in a deeper level of research. As Russo et al (2008) suggest, we aimed to use curatorial knowledge to act as a hub which an on-line community could connect to and build on.

The blog platform (WordPress) was built by the Museum's Web Services department and handed over to the 'project lead', a curator, who would become the project administrator. At the Powerhouse Museum, the Web Team is in a different department from the IT Team. As Chan and Spadaccini (2007) suggest, using blogging as a first foray into the curatorial team's use of social media was cheap, technically simple and easy to set up.

We wanted to post frequently and build up a whole 'team' of curatorial bloggers, each with a unique voice (Chan & Spadaccini, 2007). To help reveal some of the personalities of the participating curators, each has a 'profile' post which includes a portrait photograph, short biography and personal stories about favourite objects from the collection.

The initial goal was set at one post per week while operational aspects of blogging were explored. It was also necessary to ensure adequate resources were available to make the blog sustainable, as this has proved a major concern for museum bloggers in the past (Chan & Spadaccini, 2007). The curatorial team wanted the workflow to support a quick and spontaneous blogging environment. Posts for 'Object of the Week' are written by curators, combined with images, and directly loaded on to the blog by the project lead. This simple process allows the curatorial department to react quickly to current events and retain a sense of authority. This also provides a sense of ownership over the blog and responsibility for producing quality content.

Now in 2010, the Powerhouse Museum curatorial team posts to 'Object of the Week' a minimum of three times a week, always keeping a flexible backlog of posts waiting to be published.

Social Media Survey

After establishing 'Object of the Week' and wanting to investigate where the Museum's curatorial knowledge of social media stood in the wider industry, a major survey of curators was undertaken. Whilst much research has been done on social media in museums, there was a lack of knowledge about how curators are currently interacting with Web 2.0 in a professional capacity.

In November 2009, 96 curators from Australia, UK, USA, Norway and New Zealand were surveyed anonymously. Survey participants were employees from a wide range of institutions, including science museums, natural history museums, art museums, history museums, indigenous centres, aquariums, university collections, regional museums and galleries and children's museums.

Participants agreed to share their responses for this paper. Quotes from their answers are included throughout.

A Curator's Role

Traditionally museum curators have been viewed as specialists in their fields, experts of knowledge and the one link between the museum collections and the public. Their duties are vast and many, including planning exhibitions, developing content, acquiring for the collection, documenting objects, doing research, answering public enquiries, giving museum tours, writing for publication, giving media interviews, advising external associations and affiliates. Their roles have also been seen as objective and factual.

When survey participants were asked to complete the statement "A curator is..." the results indicate that curators may be changing how they define their roles.

Figure 1

Fig 1: A visualisation of the frequency of words used to complete the phrase
"A curator is...."

Only a minority of curators still see themselves as 'specialists', 'experts', or 'the gatekeepers of knowledge'. One participant felt as though a curator is "the meat in the sandwich between management and stake holders..." The majority of participants defined themselves using terms such as 'researchers', 'knowledge brokers', 'communicators', 'facilitators' and most commonly 'interpreters'.

One clear message in the response to this question is that a curator's role is still strongly connected to objects, collections and material culture.

The 'Object of the Week' blog reflects this connection: the content is strongly linked to the Museum collection and the stories that surround it.

Understanding Social Media

"It's evolving fast, so who fully understands it?"

Most curators surveyed believe they fully understand the term 'social media', with less than 5% claiming to have no understanding of the term. The spread of understanding was quite vast, with some curators left pondering what social media is and others showing that they have had to work hard to understand the term.

"I have spent the best part of the last six months immersed in trying to learn about social media and the opportunities it presents for creating new engagement between our collection and the wider public."

Before establishing 'Object of the Week', Powerhouse Museum curators had been exposed to social media activities. Although not directly involving the curatorial department as a whole, the Museum has photographic collections on Flickr, along with a Facebook presence, and a host of blogs, including an experimental exhibition development blog.

Do Curators Use Social Media in Their Personal Lives?

"Email and instant messaging are what I use the most. Who has time for the rest? You would never get any work done. It's hard enough keeping up with email!"

Figure 2

Fig 2: The types of social media curators are using for personal use

The majority (80.5%) of all curators surveyed use social media spaces for personal use. The most popular platforms include Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, MySpace and commenting on blogs. Other uses include LinkedIn, and nings.

Largely the answers to this question paint a picture of curators who have placed themselves in on-line social spaces for personal use and are engaged with a networked world.

Curators Who Do Not Use Social Media

"In an environment where the volume of work far surpasses the time available to do it, social media looks like a luxury."

Figure 3

Fig 3: Responses to why curators do not use social media for work

In their roles as a curators, 36.7% of all survey participants do not use social media. When asked why, the overwhelming response was that social media take up time that curators just don't have. One curator stated, "emails - 100s of them!", indicating that basic core business duties are taxing enough on a curator's workload.

The survey indicates that of the curators who do not use social media for work, 36% of them state that they do not have the outlet to do so, while a smaller group have had social media spaces 'blocked' by their institutions.

"I am prevented from using social media at work by IT policies. The IT department do not use social media either."

Others had been outright restricted from using social media:

"I have been asked by my manager to divorce myself from the museum in my personal Twitter account, which is quite frankly impossible, so I hardly tweet anything interesting from there now."

Some participants stated they do not use social media because there is as yet no resource to do so: "smaller collecting institutions.... are only just beginning to realise the potential of social media and therefore the need to allocate staff time and resources (often already stretched) into developing an on-line presence in the social media arena."

Some respondents (16%) didn't feel comfortable in the social media space stating things like: "Am concerned that my personal opinions may be misinterpreted",

"Blogs and twitter etc are time consuming, but are also temporary", and "Don't feel comfortable in using "work" time for something that overlaps into a "social" activity."

It was evident that within this group of curators who do not use social media, some are from institutions that are only just beginning to explore the this media realm. One telling statistic arising from this group of curators is that 90% of them would like more social media training to be offered in their workplace.

Changing Attitudes

Powerhouse Museum curators initially found it time consuming to learn new software and a new way of writing and replying to reader's comments for 'Object of the Week'. Early skepticism about the project led to a lack of support from the curatorial team, and the perception that blogging was time consuming led to poor participation. This effect has been documented in other museum blogs such as the Smithsonian American Art Museum's 'Eye Level' (Gates, 2007). This was an attitude that was slow to change.

The project lead became actively aware of the work individual curators were undertaking, approaching selectively and encouraging individuals to write blog posts. To make content creation less time consuming, curators were encouraged to re-purpose existing content such as object documentation, previously written articles, and research resulting from public enquiries. Curators new to blogging were individually walked through the process by the project lead, covering content selection, writing style, and how to reply to comments. The project lead endeavored to raise awareness of the blog, creating a 'highlight' column in the Museum's weekly newsletter, along with scheduling 'Object of the Week' for discussion at fortnightly curatorial departmental meetings. This raised the profile of the project internally, making participation more attractive. Individual curators became more comfortable in participating and in turn their colleagues began asking how they could start writing posts. Once it was shown that blogging didn't need to be hugely time consuming and was not difficult, participation slowly increased.

The majority of Powerhouse Museum curators now participate in 'Object of the Week'; however, some are overwhelmed by their current workload, and others still do not feel comfortable in doing so. Participation in the project still remains voluntary, with no staff member pressured to take part.

How Are Curators Interacting with Social Media at Work?

"I co-ordinate the museum's blog, contribute to its twitter feed, and generally evangelize for the museum and my collections on-line."

Of the 96 curators surveyed, 63.3% are now using social media in their roles.

Whilst the word 'twitter' has been declared the most popular word of 2009 (American Dialect Society, 2009), it is not winning any votes from curators. The overwhelming majority of curators using social media are spending their time blogging rather than tweeting.

66.7% of the curators surveyed who are using social media in their roles are contributing to a museum blog, and over half of these curators know how to upload their own posts using backend software such as 'WordPress' or 'Blogger'. But some don't have access to these backend applications, evidenced by comments such as: "museum public output of this nature is regulated through a dept other than mine!".

Although the overwhelming response was that curators are blogging, they are also:

  • using Youtube to upload video, lecture and, promote museum tours
  • maintaining and adding to Flickr pages
  • developing exhibition content and concepts via blogs
  • contributing to Facebook pages and using them to market events
  • administering wikis and nings
  • contributing to Twitter feeds and twitter campaigns
  • maintaining contact with international colleagues
  • seeking information for research
  • participating in on-line discussion forums

One of the reasons 'Object of the Week' runs successfully is that the front and backend tasks are performed by the project lead, who is also a curator. The Web Services department granted the curatorial team full administrable access to the blog and takes a back seat, providing support when needed. This allows a short path for curators between creating content and publishing on the blog. It also creates a feeling of ownership over the project that may not be otherwise felt if back-end duties are done by another department.

There is a continuing and ongoing effort to encourage other curators to learn the skills necessary to upload their own content into the WordPress platform. This not only aides in lessening demands on the projects lead's time, but also ensures the blog can become a sustainable project.

Are Curators Using Social Media Engaging with a New Audience?

"I keep getting acquisition inquiries via twitter and have collected various items offered to me there. The fact that the museum is actively collecting recent technology is unfortunately still not widely known to the public and my presence on the web looking for these artefacts really helps get out the word."

83.3% of the surveyed curators who use social media at work felt they had engaged with an on-line audience through doing so. Most of this interaction is coming through blog comments, but also through other means. One curator, for example, commented that "many potential donors post images on Flickr for our review rather than sending them attached to an e-mail."

All curators surveyed still interact with a museum audience in more traditional ways, such as tours, talks and written publications. However, curators who use social media at work indicated they are significantly more likely to give media interviews than their colleagues who do not use social media. This form of media appears to have had a significant impact on the 'findability' and accessibility of museum curators. Curators are clearly reaching and interacting with an audience via social media; this in turn is boosting their individual profiles within the broader community and also raising the profile of their museums.

The Powerhouse Museum curators have been discovering and interacting with a new audience via 'Object of the week'. We have experienced debates with readers regarding factuality of content, we have had readers solve "mystery object" posts, and we have also generally enjoyed the many comments and interactions the blog has offered.

As suggested by the survey, Powerhouse Museum curators have indeed become more easily findable through the blog. The 'Curator Profile' section of 'Object of the Week' is the most 'clicked on' category of the blog. Throughout the project, participating curators have been found via their writings and asked for newspaper comment, television interviews, or guest appearances on specialty TV shows.

How Much Time Are Curators Spending on Social Media?

Figure 4

Fig 4: Number of hours per week curators are spending on social media for work
(STD= 8.1, Median=4, Mean=5.8)

The survey reports that the majority of curators spend one hour per week using social media in their role, with the mean average being 5.8 hours per week. Only 6 respondents used social media for more than 10 hours a week for work purposes.

Digitisation of collections and placing them on the Web has, without a doubt, significantly increased a curator's workload within the last 5-10 years. As more people can access a museum's collection, curators have dealt with an exponential rise in the amount of correspondence they must answer. Using museum collections in social media spaces, for example Flickr, has also increased a curator's workload, answering and dealing with public enquiries that may not have arisen had the image stayed within the museum's walls.

A careful eye has been kept on the staff time used to create and publish blog posts for "Object of the Week'. As the blog is edited within the curatorial department without passing through the editorial department, the curator's workload and the time taken to produce a blog post is reduced. This also ensures the curators stand behind their words. Participatory museum experience expert Nina Simon (2010), suggests that to run a Web 2.0 venture such as a blog takes between 5-10 hours staff hours a week. At the Powerhouse Museum, producing one blog post takes approximately 2.5 hours of staff time. This includes writing, editing, image manipulation, uploading of the post, and replying to any comments. Currently the blog is being updated three times a week, using approximately 7.5 hours of staff time.

Social Media's Impact on the Role of a Curator

Figure 5

Fig 5: A visualisation of the frequency of words used to answer the question,
"What do you think is the biggest impact of social media?"

Overwhelming, curators surveyed thought that the biggest impact of social media was its ability to connect information and collections with a new and wide audience. Traditionally a curator's audience would be visitors on the museum floor or readers of a published work. When museums share the collection with a new audience, a curator's work is more accessible than ever before. As one respondent stated, quite literally "The world has opened up" and another said:

I am excited by the possibilities of social media for accessing other people's [the public and specialists] knowledge about objects, events, stories etc. I think discovering how other people creatively interpret our collections will be an eye-opener and it will assist me efficiently communicate with others around the world in ways that could not have been done so easily previously.

Only 11.5% of curators surveyed stated that the biggest impact of social media on their role was the time it takes to perform duties in this space. Some curators felt that working in a social media space allowed them "less time to actually engage with collections". There was also concern about the 'potential' of work that it may create:

"there is some anxiety at my museum that it may generate a lot of work that we may not be able to deal with."

However, some curators are still wary of social media and the threat it poses of losing control of content:

I still hold traditional views, not elitist though, that Museums should still be in control and that curators have expertise which should not be 'drowned' out by this drive for giving audiences more control and ability to interpret our collections and determine what we do etc. Having said that, however, social media is a great way to inspire audiences and create new interests and get the word out there about the wonderful work Museums do.

Some curators were also concerned about losing their authoritative voice:

"it's a bit 'death of the author' - I don't think as curators we have grasped and dealt with the impact of the loss of a [possibly antiquated] sense of the authority of expertise in which curators used to be immersed/ grounded".

Perhaps the biggest impact of social media on the role of a curator is that it may be largely responsible for changing it. Even curators who do not use social media in their roles still largely view its impact on the profession as a positive one.

We have found that 'Object of the Week' provides the Powerhouse Museum curators with a writing and publishing experience that would otherwise would not be available. Although the process does take time, interaction with a new audience is richly rewarding.

The Changing Role of the Curator

"We have to know how to engage with our audience and the audience is ever changing."

Overwhelmingly, surveyed curators believe that the role of a curator is changing.

There are many comments that indicate, while the role is changing, some things are vital to hold on to, one being the relationship curators have with collections and the knowledge they can build and provide.

With more and more of our collections going on-line, we need to ensure that Museums retain the value of providing high quality data. You often see money being spent on making data accessible but rarely do you see funds for data verification. That's what curators do.

I think there will always be a need for very the contextual knowledge curators provide. Expertise and authority have become democratized, to everybody's benefit, but curators help put the work of amateur historians in broader context based on scholarship and collections knowledge.

One curator feared for the existence of a curatorial role stating:

"If disciplinary knowledge and education are not valued however then yes, curators as they currently exist are not relevant."

If the biggest impact of social media on a curator's role is the way in which it provides access to a new audience, then it is imperative that curators change to meet these needs. Social media dictates a myriad of changes, big and small, which may occur in the way curators work. Minor changes, such as in writing style, may need to be made to produce a more casual tone, while larger changes may influence the way content is produced in the first place.

At the Powerhouse Museum, curators have already begun changing the way in which they produce content; for example, writing documentation records in a structure that is easily read on-line and can be re-used in a multitude of platforms. This adheres to an ethos of "produce once, use many times", and has proven to be especially beneficial in writing posts for 'Object of the Week'.

Social Media Training

71.2% of all survey participants would like more workplace training in using social media. These numbers are hard to ignore. The message is clear: if curators' roles are to change, curators must be adequately supplied with the skills to handle them.

The Institute of Museums and Library Services study 'Museums, Libraries and 21st Century Skills' found one of the outcomes to be that curators may no longer be required to be masters of just one field, but masters of many. This is in addition to being proficient in using 21st century skills such as digital technologies (computers,PDA's, media players, GPS, etc), communication tools, networking tools and social networks, to appropriately access, manage, integrate, evaluate and create information that successfully functions in a knowledge economy. This study also suggests that it may be more beneficial for these types of skills to be taught in a multidirectional approach, from others on the same level, rather than from the top down (Institute of Museums and Library Services, 2009).

This may be indicative of a divide between an institution's Web Services, or IT department, and its curatorial department. As shown in the survey, curators are deeply involved in the physical world, with their roles rooted in a material culture and objects. Things that can be made to happen instantly in the Web world don't always translate into the physical world of curators. There is a physical process, with accompanying restrictions, when working with objects. Handling them, photographing them, researching them and writing about them can take a lot of time. Web service departments often do not understand these boundaries when working with a collection.

During the process of running 'Object of the Week' it was found that curators were more inclined to be involved in writing blog posts and participating if they had the confidence, knowledge and the skills to do so. This was accomplished by skill training in the basics of blogging, both in one-on-one and in workshop format, coming from the curator project lead. The Web Team at the Powerhouse Museum used a 'train the trainer' approach (project lead to curators), which was found to be highly beneficial. Curators felt more involved in the process, had more ownership, were more likely to ask questions, and generally felt more comfortable in that environment.


"I hope there will always be a place for deep analytical thinking, audience-directed creativity, and curators willing and able to take responsibility for collections and for using objects to communicate important ideas."

As Russo et al (2008) state, "Any successful use of social media tools will need more effort than the download of free software and the hope that someone technically minded in the organisation will implement and sustain a participatory communication program." For curators, specifically, there are numerous hurdles to overcome in integrating social media tools into their professional roles.

As museums focus more and more on audience engagement, curators must support the institution's goals for doing so; however, the institution must in turn support the curator. Time demands are recurring issues in relation to curators' use of social media. Increasing workloads, lack of funding, and staff reductions all impact on a curator's role, and perhaps social media is still at the bottom of a list of priorities. As one surveyed curator stated:

"in my institution the social networking tools are used by the marketing department to develop customer relationships. They are not yet seen as an extension of the museum's content or experience."

It is hoped that as institutions adopt and develop social media policies into their core business, time taken to complete duties in social media spaces may become part of day-to-day duties, and considered just another part of content production.

Access to social media tools is also another issue. In Australia the Government 2.0 taskforce was formed to make recommendations on the potential uses of public sector information and on-line engagement (Australian Government, 2009). The report recommends that institutions identify barriers within their organisation that inhibit on-line engagement, and develop plans to reduce them. As the Australian government and perhaps others develop documents such as this, curators who have previously been blocked from accessing social media may be better enabled to gain access. Engaging with the tools and platforms of social networking should be accepted as an integral part of a curator's professional development toolkit, and therefore should be freely accessible.

Curators are also facing the challenge of learning new skills to work in Web 2.0. As Shelley Bernstein (2008) suggests, including curatorial presence whenever possible can greatly benefit a museum's Web 2.0 project. However, curators must have the skills to be able to participate. Furthermore, if as Nina Simon (2008) suggests, museums are to bring social media type platforms back onto the physical museum floor, which is the traditional realm of the curator, then curators will have to understand and be comfortable with how these platforms work, to be able to assist with their integration into the physical space. Curatorial uptake of these types of activities is dictating that 21st century skills may become a base level to fulfill a curator's role. Curators need to hone their information, media and technology skills, and must be equipped to do so. Emphasis on continuing education and professional development is essential to keep abreast of changes. If the skills needed to perform a curator's job are changing, then it is also important that those skills be written into job descriptions.

Russo et al (2008) suggested that the widespread viability and sustainability of social media as a tool for the curator remains to be determined. In many ways this has not changed, but perhaps curators are yet to be presented with a well-fitting social media platform. Curator's roles are still deeply connected to collections and physical objects; they do not always mesh well on platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Flickr or even blogging. Perhaps a social media platform that allows for retention of a curatorial voice, deep analytical thinking, audience directed creativity, and the ability to use content to communicate ideas has yet to be developed.

That said, curators who are already embracing social media are enjoying the benefits: a high degree of visibility, extensive networks, and the opportunity to have a subjective voice. With time, training and encouragement, many of their colleagues will, no doubt, join them.


This paper was made possible by the Powerhouse Museum curatorial team and their ongoing support and contributions to 'Object of the Week'. I would like to thank the curators around the globe who took the time to complete the survey, and Sandra McEwen, Seb Chan, and Anna Dicker, for their suggestions and editing prowess.


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Chan, S.& J. Spadaccini (2007). "Radical Trust: The State of the Museum Blogosphere". In J. Trant and D. Bearman (eds.). Museums and the Web 2007: Proceedings. Toronto: Archives & Museum Informatics, published March 1, 2007. Consulted January 22, 2010. Available

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Appendix: Survey Results

Question 1.

Based on your OWN experience as a curator, how do you define the role? use a sentence or two to answer: "A curator is....
  Response Count
answered question 78
Based on your OWN experience as a curator, how do you define the role? use a sentence or two to answer: "A curator is....
1 An identifier, collector, carer, interpreter, exhibitor of aspects of the physical world
2 other duties as assigned.
3 a gatherer and distributer of information about a particular selection of objects or activities.
4 a facilitator of information. Someone who researches and explores collections and the world, past and present, and opens it up for everybody. They communicate ideas and concepts through the written and oral word and visual mediums like exhibitions, blogs and other publications, and they document history and life as it happens for the benefit of future audiences.
5 an advocate for and interpreter of material culture, a documenter and communicator of the multiple stories associated with objects. We build coherent material culture collections and create opportunities for people to encounter and create their own meaning from them.
6 a collection manager. A curator researches and develops interpretive material relating to the Museum's collections.
7 responsible for determining exhibition themes, selecting or deaccessioning collections, and providing information to staff & the public.
8 A researcher, collector and interpreter of cultural heritage.
9 a facilitator - of people to collecting institutions and collecting institutions to people
10 a project manager and creative person who organises and presents artwork in an exciting and interesting manner.
11 Manager of artefacts--care, exhibits, research, collector
12 someone with specialist knowledge who interprets objects and phenomena for their visitors
13 someone who coordinates and cares for aspects of a project, exhibit, or collection.
14 A curator acquires and interprets artefacts of many kinds.
15 a person who understands their subject, their collections and how those objects fit into the world at large. They want how to share and communicate the fascination of their beloved subject with others, and to benefit their communities of users by so doing.
16 the person responsible for shaping, telling and sharing stories...stories of people, the community, the world they shape, the environment (built and natural), the natural world, the past, the present and future.
17 someone who guides collections decisions, researches objects, and develops content and selects objects for exhibitions.
18 An expert in the field of plants, expected to be able to answer all plant enquiries, botanical input to Exhibitions, carry out botanical research, and assist with the management of a herbarium of 0.3 million plant specimens
19 someone who manages, researches and catalogues collection material in order for it to be available to the public; either through exhibition in galleries, or through digital means. Also a curator is someone who provides advice on collection items held by their institution, or in private hands, including historical backgrounds, valuations (where appropriate) and basic conservation advice. If a curator cannot answer a question, it is their role to refer the person to a more appropriate person/organisation/website.
20 a creator, a co-ordinator, a project manager and a communicator of stories to an audience using a wide variety of interpretive media, together with collection objects.
21 responsible for developing and designing exhibitions that allow the public to interact and engage with the museum collection in new and interesting ways.
22 a researcher who works with material culture. They communicate their research to public, scholarly and professional audiences (through exhibitions, publications, Collections Online, etc.), and are involved in strategically developing their collection areas.
23 an interpreter of history and historical artefacts to the general public.
24 a multi-tasker - a 'threatened species' - nominally combining roles of collection caretaker, researcher and exhibitor
25 being the artists curator, councillor, budget advisor, listening to the public, negotiating the distance between the public and the academic ......getting the information out there.
26 someone who brings together objects and people and tells their stories; in a contemporary art context an advocate for art and artists, both a facilitator and collaborator.
27 an interface to the collections. To be effective an interface reciprocity between the user and the curator must occur.
28 a compiler of stories and narratives using objects and artworks
29 The person in a museum who bears the responsibility of decisions on the management of most aspects of management of the collection.
30 a person who is responsible for the custodianship, care, maintenance and research of a collection. They are also responsible for making sure these collections are researched, interpret and exhibited in a responsible and culturally safe environment.
31 A curator is a conduit through which material of significance on a local or national scale can be brought into a collecting institution either though public donation, purchase or bequest and be thoroughly assessed for its significance, relationships to collections in other national and international and potential exhibition use.
32 a person who knows how to interpret and communicate the cultural significance of everyday objects
33 someone who explores ideas and information through the research, interpretation and display of artworks.
34 responsible for administration, collections policy, exhibition design, answering questions from the public, hosting special events, cataloguing (photography and digital registration), media interviews research and conference participation.
35 a person responsible for the acquisition and care of tangible historical objects, specifically pertaining to European settlement.
36 a keeper, researcher and interpreter of historic and contemporary material culture, intangible cultural heritage and experiences. Curators use their knowledge of collections and subjects to address issues, topics and ideas via programs that are accessible to the public (and/or engage the public) by interpreting them through a range of media and forums.
37 a collector, organiser and disseminator
38 is an expert who researches, understands and shares the stories and collections of their museum, heritage site or palace, and (in our case) champions an understanding of history in the 'presentation' of the site.
39 someone who tries to communicate or interpret information to the general public, leading to changes in behaviour.
40 In my case, a curator is someone who plans, develops and presents exhibitions. Our exhibition curators are in charge of generating the ideas and themes treated in exhibitions and then putting together the objects, images and interactives that tell the story.
41 ddf
42 a trained individual who has the responsibility to build, care for, promote, share and develop collections held in an institution that meets professional standards.
43 I am not a curator. I work with our curators to help bring items into the collection and make them useful through research, displays, events, and the internet.
44 a facilitator, who uses their expertise in a certain field; interpretive devices appropriate to different audiences; and knowledge of the appropriate ways to handle, care for and display cultural material, to engage, educate and inspire.
45 a person who interprets, cares for, makes accessible and develops collections
46 a communicator, learning facilitator, researcher, interpreter, documenter, data input keyboard jockey, etc
47 a person with deep and broad subject knowledge, good research skills, analytical thinking skills, creativity, and the ability to communicate ideas to a range of audiences, in writing, via talks, and by commissioning (and being involved in creating) multimedia. Crucially, a curator must be able to make decisions, focus, lead teams and take responsibility for their products.
48 someone who enjoys research and writing, presenting information in an accessible way to the public, enjoys working in a government environment and likes people and objects almost equally.
49 someone who oversees a collection of objects. The curator is responsible for researching, cataloguing, exhibiting, interpreting and caring for that collection.
50 a manager and advocate of collections.
51 a professional who brings items into an institution's collection, researches those items and makes them, and their broader significance, available to the public through exhibitions and public programs.
52 A curator is someone who looks after a collection, researches it, periodically adds to it by acquisition and shares information about the collection and interprets it through exhibitions, giving talks and papers, writing articles and books, giving media interviews, writing online object documentation, blogging and answering public enquiries .
53 An interpreter of culture, an organiser of collections, an ambassador for the institution, a manager, and many more things.
54 someone who preserves, records, researches and facilitates access to objects and information to enrich our understanding of the world and its history
55 Collects, manages, interprets, communicates and creates dialogue around material culture.
56 a knowledge broker. We unlock the meanings of material things by being able to 'read' them.
57 a person who has responsibility for a large number of objects and a duty to assist with the interpretation of these objects and make them available to the public for a variety of purposes.
58 a subject specialist who has custodial care of a collection and is responsible for developing the collection and researching the material within it.
59 Knowledge broker, a link between the academic and professional expert world and the general public with some special knowledge in material culture.
60 a professional dedicated to roles involving developing and researching the collection as well as interpreting and presenting the collection for the public via exhibitions, publications, talks and other (increasingly electronic) means.
61 an interpreter, a story detective and lateral thinker with a good visual understanding.
62 someone who is visionary and an interpreter of the world around them, and giving voices to the objects they exhibit
63 responsible for developing collections and creative outputs from and related to the collections to enhance the visitors' comprehension and enjoyment of what the collections represent.
64 someone who teaches history (in my case) through the use of objects, photographs and other materials. A curator also insures that the proper care is give those materials in the museum's collection.
65 responsible (or partially responsible) for the development, research, promotion, interpretation, management and care of a collection of objects relating to a field of study and/or human activity.
66 One who collects articles that pertain to the mission of the museum. . .catalogues and protects the integrity of the articles
67 a keeper and interpreter of artefacts and the knowledge that is embedded in /around them. We acquire objects, research them, interpret them, liaise with donors, colleagues and the community. We are history detectives!
68 a specialist in a particular discipline that helps to provide information about it and the context and meanings associated with it to a broader audience this includes trying to explain complex concepts in simple terms so a majority of visitors will understand the concept etc.
69 a museum professional who is responsible for interpreting the museum collection for the public (including visitors and the wider community) through the creation of displays and exhibitions and research.
70 amultiskilled individual
71 Someone who balances the interpretation and care/management of a museum's collection.
72 not to be answered in a sentence or 2. am happy to email my job description
73 The visionary person, but often you become Jack of all Trades.
74 expected to know everything about any subject that might be even lightly touched on in his/her institution.
always overworked, underpaid and under appreciated.
the meat in the sandwich between Management and Stake holders.
As you can see my experience in 3 different museums as S Curator has seen me looking for retraining in another field - I'm fed up with the constant battles
75 a collector, interpreter, and exhibitor of objects
76 a person who researches, interprets and provides access to collections in a certain subject area.
77 responsible for the collection, preservation, and interpretation of the objects under his/her care. Achieving these ends requires that curators also establish connections with their communities in order to raise funds for and awareness of their institutions.
78 Responsible for using and developing the museum's collections to interpret and communicate subject-specific information relating to and including that represented in the collections.


Question 2.

Do you have an understanding of what social media is?
Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Yes, I fully understand the term 69.5% 57
Maybe, I think I know but I'm not sure 25.6% 21
No, I hear the term a lot but I do not understand what it is 4.9% 4
Feel free to elaborate 21
answered question 82
answers "Feel free to elaborate"
1 I'm not sure I understand the breadth of the term
2 The person who says they fully understands something ... . probably doesn't!
3 I think I fully understand the term. Do I fully understand all the different manifestations and the potential ramifications for my work? no -- but I play around enough to get some of them.
4 In 2008 I completed an MA thesis at the University of Melbourne entitled 'Beyond the book: reshaping Australian public history in the Web 2.0 environment'.
5 Internet based- websites, blogs, email, electronic newsletters
6 I have spent the best part of the last six months immersed in trying to learn about social media and the opportunities it presents for creating new engagement between our collection and the wider public.
7 I understand the context, purpose and function of social media, although I have limited experience in it practical use.
8 Thanks to a brilliant presentation at a conference - but knew very little before about the medium and more particularly its impact on, well, everything!
9 The use of web technologies to disseminate, interact and create and transform - context, conversation, information, images and data.
10 I am certain there is more to learn, but I am familiar with things such as Facebook, MySpace, blogs, twitter, Flickr, Wikipedia, tagging, etc. We make podcasts, keep up a blog, promote things through FB.
11 I don't think anybody has worked out what it is - it is evolving, it is faddish.
12 It's evolving fast, so who fully understands it?
13 Been blogging since last century, also interacting with others online and in virtual worlds.
14 blogs, methods of communicating and discussing things on the web
15 I understand social media to be any digital technology that allows people to interact. I'm not sure if speaking on the telephone fits into it.
16 understand the term but don't necessary know or participate with / on all social media platforms
17 I understand the term but am not fully convinced that all parts need to be engaged
18 Humans have always interacted, formed groups and networks of many kinds, now with social media we get to do it in virtual space
19 The use of electronic media for establishing identities within social "tribes" and maintaining and developing social contact and individual and collective relationships
20 Social media uses online network sites like Facebook, MySpace, blogs, utube, Flickr, picasa, rss newsfeeds, online groups etc. It uses web software, video, databases, graphic design and other visual web media to communicate. It can be accessed on mobile phones and computers. It allows dialogue between users and the hosts of such sites, and the production of knowledge feeds back into the sites through uploads of images, comments, data etc.
21 all aspects of interacting media like facebook and twitter, bloggs

Question 3.

What does the term 'social' mean to you?
Answer Options Response Count
answered question 75


Response Text
1 a drawing together of interested people to participate in conversation
2 Collaborative, convenient, active and engaging.
3 Social, to me, is a term for sharing and isn't exclusive to a non-work setting.
4 responsive, engaged, engaging, discursive - not just broadcasting
5 interaction between people and referring to groups of people; adjective from society used in conjunction with history, economics etc to emphasis impact on people
6 interaction and engagement with others.
7 Communicative aspect of society.
8 collaborative, collegiate, conversational, convergent
9 Friendly, open, interested and engaging.
10 Interrelationships
11 in the company of others
12 Engaging and interacting with real people
13 Engaging with others to mutual benefit.
14 The involvement of people in a community that is in many different locations
15 connecting with others......
16 in this case, mainly "interactive" -- two way communication in which people can respond to you in some way, rather than a one-way or broadcast style of communication.
17 non-formal
18 Interaction between people. exchanges of information, both trivial and important.
19 Getting together with other people, engaging and communicating with others who hold a common interest
20 friendly, exciting, involvement, engaging, opportunity
21 Informal, friendly networks.
22 Networked, informal, connected, serendipitous
23 anything pertaining to forms of interaction between people
24 People - groups getting together to talk, critique, discuss, elaborate according to their own particular perspectives.
25 sharing and generating ideas and stories, making connections
26 A collaborative working space.
27 bringing people together
28 parties/ sharing/of society.
29 interaction between things
30 Sharing of time and information with friends and colleagues and the creation of networks of like-minded people
31 Social is the exchange of information, opinion and ideas in an informal environment that largely relies on voluntary participation.
32 Interaction between people
33 Interaction between two or more parties by means of various forms of communication.
34 My understanding of social combines a sense of interactivity, two-way (or more) exchange between people and communities. It also has connotations of being friendly, accessible and inclusive
35 interaction
36 Communicating with others
37 People interacting at some level.
38 bababa
39 Engaging with others.
40 d
41 Electronic opportunities to communicate.
42 Pages that are dynamic, not static, with a stream of information and ideas exchanged.
43 Interacting with the public/people
44 of people; in sociological terms, relating to the structures that organize our communal world
45 without a context - a nigh out - like a school social or the cohesive action of members in a society
46 Connecting individuals and communities via multiple open communication channels.
47 Depends on the context: social networking - linking with people in a superficial way, social as a personality trait - a people person who actively participates in events where discussions with other people can take place, a school social - a dance.....
48 Interpersonal
49 Interactive, creative, networking, inclusive, widespread.
50 To me, social means interacting with other people.
51 Interacting with others
52 To interact with with others.
53 interaction with other people, usually in a mutually beneficial way
54 society
55 Interaction with other human beings.
56 social means to interface and communicate with others
57 Social to me implies a level of interactivity between the various participants on/in the media, just as one interacts socially with people around us in daily life.
58 social refers to our connections to others and the meanings that that engenders
59 interacting in a pleasant way with other people
60 conversation and interaction with people
61 Groups of people sharing the same or similar life's experiences
62 To me 'social' means involving groups of individuals and groups
63 Interactions between people.
64 Of society...usually manifested as human contact whose purpose is to develop and strengthen individual and group relationships within society across all forms of human endeavour
65 Working with people who are NOT connected to the business as well as those who are--networking
66 inclusive, diverse, energetic, new demographics
67 Communicating and interacting with others.
68 Social means something to do with engaging people within the community, whether locally, nationally or internationally.
69 ability/opportunity to connect with others
70 people, place, dialogue
71 relaxed, voluntary type scenario
72 casual, friendly, multiple people
73 Relating to the public and civil society. Connected and community-focused.
74 For me, the "social" in social media means the creation of virtual connections between individuals and groups who may or may not ever have an actual physical interaction with one another.
75 I understand social as a descriptor of something relating to society, communities, groups of people and their activities and so on.


Question 4.

Do you use social media in your personal life?
Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
None 19.5% 16
Facebook 61.0% 50
twitter 24.4% 20
youtube 51.2% 42
Flickr 45.1% 37
Myspace 7.3% 6
Wikipedia 54.9% 45
comment on blogs 42.7% 35
write a personal blog 23.2% 19
Other 15.9% 13
Other (please specify) 23
answered question 82


Other (please specify)
1 list serves, twitpic, online conferencing, webcasts
2 Yammer
3 LinkedIn
4 Not sure that you shouldn't include e-mail lists here - the first social media, and UseNet Groups. I don't see a lot of activity (or personality!) on ones such as CAN, or MaNexus, where they are dominated by professional staff, but if you go out into genealogy (or even Old Machinery Forums!) there is very definitely an active and involved community.
5 .......................
6 Email and instant messaging are what I use the most. Who has time for the rest? You would never get any work done. It's hard enough keeping up with email!
7 read blogs often but rarely comment.
8 email, music sharing
9 myfolia (social networking for gardeners)
10 User defined queries into collection databases - ie. the user defines the query.
11 Email

12 I read Twitter and used to write a personal blog.
13 d
14 I did more blogging before I started using Facebook.
15 Email is important in communicating with friends (sending and receiving text, images and web links, including links to their Facebook pages). I've used voice and video over IP.
16 Virtual worlds.
17 Mumsnet and other parenting groups
18 Linkedin
19 I don't do any of the above
20 Picasa
21 Yahoo Answers
22 Through 'wantoks' people friends and family we exchange with
23 nings


Question 5.

Do you use or contribute to any social media through your work as a curator? (this can include writing blog posts, setting up work related Facebook events, using Twitter to broadcast information)
Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Yes 63.3% 57
No 36.7% 33
If Yes, please specify specific projects or uses of social media 55
answered question 90


If Yes, please specify specific projects or uses of social media
1 Writing Blogs, twitter feeds, vod and pod creation, comments on variety of social media, Facebook, emails from list serves of peer related activity, publications, writing online content, posting photographs
2 Curatorial blog
3 Use twitter to broadcast information and connect with other institutions and set up and use ning sites to communicate and facilitate projects.
4 Write blog posts. I have also used twitter to broadcast information, but since discovering that I repeat much of what other colleagues tweet about, have withdrawn my account.
5 I used my personal Twitter account to tweet about the museum's transport festival, such as arrivals of locomotives, in the absence of anyone setting up a work one. I then helped the press officer to set one up for work. It has become mainly a "what's on" promotional tool rather than anything with specific curatorial focus. I occasionally ask for information about obscure items or for ideas on a topic. I have been asked by my manager to divorce myself from the museum in my personal Twitter account, which is quite frankly impossible, so I hardly tweet anything interesting from there now.
6 Contributions to museum's blog page
Facebook contributions
Lectures repurposed for youTube and other online outlets
7 contributor of exhibitions blog on Australian Museum website
comment on posts by colleagues on Australian Museum website
Evil exhibition concept and content development with potential audiences on Facebook
follow and post (occasionally) on twitter to comment on work related content/ research/ conferences etc
8 Facebook, Flickr.
9 I have written posts, set up facebook events and designed and delivered a social meadi project to support National Science Week in NSW.
10 The Curatorial Department in my museum all contribute to a publicly shared blog. I use my personal Twitter account to promote and discuss the work I'm doing for my museum. I also have a hand in suggesting what my museum's social media posts. I have incorporated many social media platforms into a recent exhibit.
11 Though its not a major part of my work.
12 I developed a blog in 2007 for a wildlife webcam project I set up. I still contribute: The blog peaks at 10,000 readers a week in the peregrine breeding season, and our webcameras take about half a million hits a year.
I use Flickr so that users can capture webcam pictures and share them with others:
I use YouTube so i can share and embed into out blog intimate moments captured by our recording equipment:
I also use Flickr to manage photos for a book on the plant sof our county that I'm co-writing: We embed those images into our council-run website, too:
I did start to use Twitter to share news that was too small to go on our blog, but as my authority is still in the throes of developing its social media strategy - and use of social media is still a sensitive area - I was asked to remove the account for the time being.
13 Actively blog three collections (also working with two small community museums), with associated sue of Flickr
14 I use and contribute occasionally to social media sites that relate specifically to my the greenexhibitswiki, for example. I read other blogs about my field of interest (sustainable design) and I use Facebook to let other people know bout projects I am engaged in that may be of interest.
15 I tweet about my job (@CLTcurator) and also post to our museum's Facebook page as one of the administrators.
16 I write blogs. Mostly about collection items I come across in my cataloguing work, but sometimes about general historical topics. Although much of what I catalogue will go on the collection database, I find the blog a tool for relating items to each other in a way the database cannot, or to provide for speculation or editorial, or to express enthusiasm for a topic in a way catalogue records do not allow.
17 ...................
18 i am having training this Wednesday in how to write blog content. i have developed a blog as a spin off to a virtual exhibition for our new permanent exhibition. i have also uploaded images to flickr.
19 I write blog entries for the REB Western Forecourt project. My role as lead curator on the project is to provide some historical context for the project, and inform the museum's public about our activities on site via an online forum.
20 I maintain the project blog for the Royal Exhibition Building Western Forecourt Redevelopment. The blog can be found here:
21 incredibly limited - emails and 'texts' for IT/publications to use on website
22 I administer a number of wikis.
23 write blog posts, comment on blog posts, participate in discussion forums, use Facebook for event promotion
24 to see what issues people are talking about, and how they think about issues, even how they interact about issues and where they are going to source their information
25 The answer in this case is no, however this is only because smaller collecting institutions such as the Canberra Museum and Gallery are only just beginning to realise the potential of social media and therefore the need to allocate staff time and resources (often already stretched) into developing an online presence in the social media arena.
26 This year I have set up a blog for my project team. The members of the team come from different departments, are located in two different buildings and all work either literally part-time, or if they are full-time only work part-time on this particular project. The blog has been a good way to keep people focussed on the project and update them of our progress. It is also a great way of showing people (and keeping a record) of the great sites/blogs we have found inspiring/useful.
27 Write regular blog posts
28 I have done - contributing to our Henry VIII twitter campaign
29 I post to the NHM blog about 2x a month and comment occasionally on related blogs. NHM also using facbook and twitter. Both are fairly new to the institution.
30 blog posts that include podcasts
31 Again, I am not a curator, but I have participated in adding information about what we do to sites such as Facebook and blogs.
We post two podcasts monthly.
We add entries to our blog weekly.
32 contributions to museum web blogs
33 Contribute to two blogs run by my museum. Comment occasionally on outside blogs related to my area of expertise (usually to try to counter misinformation about energy matters).
The introduction of email led to a great improvement in productivity, as playing telephone tag was no longer part of everyday life (eg in answering public enquiries, researching current topics) and off-site inspections of objects on offer could mostly be done by asking the donor or vendor to email photos.
34 The Museum has a Flickr and Facebook page which I contribute content to regularly. Other curators have used blogs which I've commented on.
35 I write for the Museum's blog.
36 Blogs and Wiki's.
37 Maintain a Flickr page for my institution, and I am a member of the Museum 3 Ning network.
38 Writing blog posts.
39 But I'm about to write my first blog post. I have no idea how to upload anything though.
40 Photo of the day, Signs blog,
41 I use social media to maintain contact with international colleagues and to seek information for research that I am undertaking.
42 I have contributed a couple of blog posts to the musuem blog
I have presented 3 youtube clips on object form the musuems collection
43 Contributing to blogs, commenting on colleagues posts
44 Blog posts
45 blogs (forthcoming!), wikis, Flikr ...
46 The History Center uses several social media outlets. I contribute ideas for Twitter and the TBHC blog.
47 1 Comments on blogs
2 Using YouTube for promoting steam locomotive tours
48 I am currently setting up a blog that will link up curators / collection managers responsible for Kodak Heritage collections around the world. It will be a private blog to assist us understand our own various collections but at some point will have a public element and exhibition website to it.
49 Blogs postings relevant to specialist area and museum specific curatorial blog.
50 Twitter, MySpace, Facebook (at times, although' other staff member handles that page)
51 writing blog posts
52 Facebook
Some twitter
several bloggs
53 blog, facebook, twitter, flickr
54 I coordinate the museum's blog, contribute to its twitter feed, and generally evangelize for the museum and my collections online.
55 Just starting some blogging

Active Participants in Social Media at Work

Question 1.

How many hours would you spend, on average, per week using social media for work?
Answer Options Response Average Response Total Response Count
Time spent: 5.81 273 47
answered question 47
Time spent:
1 3
2 1
3 12
4 3
5 4
6 1
7 6
8 5
9 12
10 2
11 5
12 2
13 5
14 1
15 4
16 1
17 2
18 4
19 8
20 25
21 5
22 8
23 1
24 2
25 2
26 2
27 6
28 3
29 5
30 0
31 10
32 6
33 2
34 1
35 1
36 1
37 5
38 15
39 1
40 1
41 2
42 10
43 12
44 50
45 10
46 5
47 1

Question 2.

Have you engaged with an online audience using social media? (ie, replied to a comment on a blog, replied to a comment on a photo in Flickr, or conversed with someone over something posted on twitter or facebook)
Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Yes 83.3% 40
No 16.7% 8
If 'Yes' please describe one/some interactions you have had 39
answered question 48
If 'Yes' please describe one/some interactions you have had
1 I detected an error in a colleague's posting and it was suggested that I write a comment on the posting correcting the error.
2 Comment on blogs, conversed on twitter, posted on message boards
3 Commenting on blog posts, but it often feels like a one-way channel. Doesn't seem to stimulate discussion beyond the 'poster' and 'replier'. Would be wonderful to have points of entry coming from other readers with their opinion.
4 Set up a meeting with a freelancer who was looking for a museum with a particular set of collections to bring an educational group to. She already knew the museum a bit, but did not know what she could access via collections staff. Education staff had not given her correct information. The result was that the group visited as part of their project instead of having to travel to a museum much further away, the freelancer understands some more of our services and collections.
5 Answered question directly on museum's blog. I have not yet responded to Flickr questions, seeing that as a more communal site where questions are posed and answered by the group instead of "big brother" museum.
6 as the administrator of the Evil exhibition Group -
post discussion threads on facebook
reply to comments of discussion threads on Facebook
posted links and photos on Facebook
post blog entry on Blogger and AM website
reply to others comments on blog entry on blogger and AM website
7 Comments on blogs.
8 Comments back and forward on twitter and facebook.
9 Commenting on blog posts,
writing blog posts for other blogs
commented on Flickr photos
commented on Flickr posts
10 All of the above, really. I have posted many a comment on various blogs, posted photos, replied via Twitter or Facebook status/message/comment.
11 Mainly involvement with collectors and others via Flickr, Facebook etc
12 2 I've left and responded to blog comments' I've moderated blog comments. I've received worldwide support for the project work I do via those comments. I've changed blog content as a result of comments left which have highlighted errors I've made, or made me feel the need to apologise for inadvertent or careless remarks. I've blocked comments which are offensive, or waded in to halt inappropriate comments being thrown about on two sides of a conservation debate which were becoming vulgar and abusive.

I monitor Twitter at home for work-related mentions of my museum, and re-tweet them in a personal capacity.

I've answered questions left on YouTube postings and acknowledged particularly good images left on Flickr.
13 Four blogs, actively trying to encourage other volunteer-operated museums to operate blogs (no real luck so far), maintain a number of Flickr groups that are museum-related (early days, not a lot of success yet)
NB I could not answer question 1 (above). It kept wanting "a valid date". I kept wanting to put "5 hours". We could not reach a compromise.
14 comments on blogs, adding things to Wikipedia, uploaded pictures from Flickr, conversed with others using Facebook.
15 I have commented on a blog review of our museum exhibits.
I maintain a Tweetdeck search on "Charlotte and museum" and reply to people who post comments about their visit to our museum.
I have also conducted twtpoll polls (publicized through twitter and Facebook) to help select objects for an upcoming exhibit, though I'm not sure whether or not that falls within the scope of what you're asking here.
16 I have replied to comments on the museum's blog, generally about my blogs, but sometimes I respond to comments on other staff members' blogs.
17 i do not currently have authority to do this but will be doing this as of next week. very exciting!
18 The museum's Discovery Centre monitors its blog, and forwards comments to the relevant curators for comment.
19 commented on blog
commented in discussion forum
tagged photo
20 offering a service of information.
21 But only within my internal work group. Have engaged with an online audience in a non-work related capacity.
22 replied to comments on the AWM Blog
23 Yes, but only a bit, responding to comments on our blog or commenting on blogs about NHM exhibitions or events.
24 Many potential donors post images on Flickr for our review rather then sending them attached to an email.
25 I forward appropriate questions received on the blog (or through comments on podcasts) to the appropriate place, such as reference questions to our library, specific queries to curators, etc. We've updated information on a photo through a comment. We often provide hints to where to locate more information, as necessary.
26 replied to comment on blog publication
27 Reply to comments on my own blog posts, and sometimes comment on colleagues' blog posts eg 'death in the museum' theme was one I contributed to because the post, and the question posed, were interesting.
28 I've replied to a favourable comment on a photograph in Flickr.
29 I have responded to comments left about our blog. I have encouraged friends and family to "fan" the Museum on Facebook.
30 Posted about new collection materials and replied to further comments and enquiries from members of the public who posted responses.
31 Replied, somewhat tentatively, to people who have commented on my blog posts.
32 I have participated in several forums discussing aspects of space history. I will frequently respond to topics on US based fora to bring a more international perspective to the discussions (especially if an important international aspect of the topic has been overlooked)
33 Chris Sumner posted a comment re the death of a significant donor and friend to the Museum, Alistair Morrison. I added my memory of his very amusing talk at a Life Fellows dinner.
34 We post a daily "This Day in History" piece on our Twitter page, and followers occasionally will ask a follow-up questions, which I will answer.
35 We respond to queries posted on our websites but they are filtered back to us through our Discovery Centre. I'm not sure if this counts as is not through a 'web2' type site.
36 Met new business connections for promo opps for museum through Twitter.
Engage with local community over museum and regional events.
Promote events/exhibits at museum on Twitter, MySpace, and Facebook.
37 Comments about our exhibition: Pacific Storms and people wanting more information on artists, work, where it would be next.
38 commented with people on blogs, made friends on twitter, made friends on museum facebook events then met them in person
39 I keep getting acquisition inquiries via twitter and have collected various items offered to me there. The fact that the museum is actively collecting recent technology is unfortunately still not widely known to the public, and my presence on the web looking for these artefacts really helps get out the word.

Question 3.

In what traditional ways do you communicate with the public, or audience? (that is not 'social media')
Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
work with affiliated societies 72.3% 34
give museum tours 70.2% 33
present talks and tours onsite 85.1% 40
present talks and tours offsite 70.2% 33
conduct workshops 38.3% 18
answer public enquiries by telephone 95.7% 45
answer public enquiries by written letter 85.1% 40
publish books 31.9% 15
publish academic papers 55.3% 26
give media interviews 89.4% 42
other 17.0% 8
Other (please specify) 13
answered question 47
Other (please specify)
1 occasionally write articles for magazines
2 Newsletters, brochures, mailings
3 answer public enquiries via email.
4 write articles for museum journals
5 answer public enquiries by e-mail.
6 produce magazine
produce newsletter
7 Publish popular style articles for work magazine
8 Write papers for general interest magazines and magazines for enthusiasts.
And of course, develop exhibitions (large and small, short-term and long-term) on a range of themes, train volunteers to present talks to the public, and write on collection and related topics for the museum's website (which invites comment and is a source of many collection enquiries dealt with by curators, so could be seen as part of 'social media'.)
9 Exhibition and catalogue text.
10 Contribute to non affiliated club's newsletters
11 I am the editor of our academic journal.
12 Write articles for the Museum's members' magazine;

Answering public enquiries by email
13 Respond to enquiries by email.

Question 4.

When something you produce in your role is "peer reviewed", who do you consider to be your 'peers'?
Answer Options Response Count
answered question 43
Response Text
1 historians
2 Anyone working in the same field as me with similar interests, but who normally have more experience or credentials.
3 My colleagues, not just curators but facilitators, those in education, front of house.
4 Academics, historians or individuals experienced in the area of the material I am producing.
5 Museum, Library and Art Gallery colleagues in Sydney, throughout Australia and Internationally
6 Other professional cultural sector workers.
7 People I work directly with and other colleagues.
8 Other museum professionals, particularly exhibits folks.
9 Fellow curators of my similar job description and professional level.
10 In my case its usually academics reviewing a conference paper. I don't rate Australian museums conferences, so I don't get reviewed by curators very often.
11 I do not have my material peer-reviewed. In another field I publish a peer-reviewed journal. There we select reviewers for a knowledge of the subject.
12 other museum professionals
13 probably depends somewhat on the context, but I would say other museum curators and historians
14 My supervisor/s or editing/history staff.
15 other staff at museums and art galleries. staff at public libraries.
16 Academics working in museology/ museum studies, and senior museum practitioners.
17 Academically qualified historians and curators.
18 anthropologists/ archaeologists/ Museum staff in various roles
19 other curators
20 yes, colleagues, associates in the field where they be in universitities, museums, galleries, other countries etc
21 Professional librarians and archivists.
22 Academic colleagues (historians employed at universities) and other museum/heritage professionals
23 Other curators, museum professionals and historians.
24 Other professional colleagues in the museum field, university history professors, ethical collectors.
25 This would be more applicable to other parts of the organization.
26 colleagues, interested friends, mates at the pub or bbq
27 Academics and curators (and perhaps others) who have thought deeply about the topic.
28 Museum professionals and academics in post-colonial and historical studies.
29 Other historians and curators.
30 Curators, archivists, librarians, colleagues.
31 Other Museum Professionals and/or academics
32 Other curators.
33 People who have, like myself, made an in depth study of the particular topic under review and thus understand the background against which my work is produced
34 Museum professionals and academics
35 Interesting. I would say other museum professionals as well as other historians.
36 Members of the museum profession and related fields (e.g, educators) or professionals within the transport industry
37 Museum professionals and historians in academia and public practice
38 Other museum professionals, regardless of position--marketing, development, exhibit, curatorial, etc.
39 people of similar education and experience or more
40 People-curators, writers, artists in Pacific arts
41 other curators, scientists
42 Historians, museum professionals/archivists/librarians/digital humanities scholars
43 Curators and/or historians

Question 5.

Do you participate in writing for a museum blog in a curatorial capacity?
Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Yes 66.7% 32
No 33.3% 16
answered question 48

Question 6.

Do you use any "back-end" software, to upload blog posts? (such as Blogger, Wordpress, or any other blog publishing software)
Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
No 42.6% 20
Yes 57.4% 27
If not, why? 24
answered question 47
If not, why?
1 I'm too new to social media and not very computer savvy
2 This is still a question to do with work? We don't have a museum or curatorial blog at all.
3 I don't use anything because I do not run the museum's blog. I do not know what they use.
4 ?
5 Blogger
6 Don't know about them, don't have time.
7 (Wordpress for personal blog. No museum blog.)
8 Museum public output of this nature is regulated through a dept other than mine!
9 no resources to support this kind of interaction
10 wordpress
11 So far, haven't written a blog for work posts, but I think it's a good idea.
12 not yet
13 A smart young person has been doing this on our behalf to date, but I will try using WordPress next time.
14 I don't blog in my current role.
15 We use Typepad.
16 We don't have a blog
17 I don't blog often enough and find it fiddly and cumbersome the couple of times I did use it.
18 That is handled by others in the institution.
19 I am of the persuasion (or maybe generation?) for which blogging is a low priority
20 My involvement is minimal at this stage
21 Wordpress - we tried Blogger but decided that Wordpress had the design and functionality we needed. The site is not yet up and running but is due to be launched in the next few weeks. I have written blog entries for it already though.
22 Not enough time to write for a blog--and much of what gets promoted at my museum needs to be approved at higher channels (lots of micromanaging). Twitter is under the radar for some reason.
23 haven't had time to get around to it
24 Have not had a chance to use it yet but I have seen it

Non-active Participants in Social Media at Work

Question 1.

If you don't participate in social media activities in your role as a curator, why not? (you can choose as many as you like)
Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
I would like to, but i haven't been given the opportunity 20.0% 5
There is currently no outlet for me to do so 36.0% 9
I don't feel comfortable in doing so 16.0% 4
I feel like I don't have the skills to participate 8.0% 2
I feel like social media activities take up too much time 32.0% 8
I just don't have the time 52.0% 13
Social media is something that the Web or IT department do 8.0% 2
Social media is just another passing trend 0.0% 0
I'm just not that interested 12.0% 3
Other 12.0% 3
Other (please specify) 10
answered question 25
Other (please specify)
1 emails - 100s of them
2 Still researching/thinking about what would be the most interesting and productive use of social media; working on a business case for sustainable practice.
3 I am not convinced of the professional benefits promised by social media, or that they warrant the amount of time that is taken up in not enough is very relevant, not enough is very articulate, allot is anecdotal and impromptu opinion rather than rigorously argued and/or research based.
4 Don't feel comfortable in using "work" time for something that overlaps into a "social" activity.
Am concerned that my personal opinions may be misinterpreted.
Without very strong personal self-discipline, a lot of time can be used or wasted!
5 In the broader role of the curator/collection manager, I think there is great potential to participate more widely in social media activities. It is a fabulous way to interact with one constituent community. However, there is also a need for organisations to be comfortable and feel sufficiently in control of them, of the material it generates etc. I think the lack of exposure to social media is quite complex, particularly for government employees who's actions, contributions etc are subject to quite intense scrutiny and legal parameters.
6 Blogs and twitter etc are time consuming, but are also temporary.
7 Am prevented from using social media at work by IT policies. The IT department do not use social media either.
8 In an environment where the volume of work far surpasses the time available to do it, social media looks like a luxury. It gets pushed into the non urgent category, largely because of the initial time and energy that would have to be outlayed to learn how to use it. None of it is intuitive. No doubt, if it became urgent or seemingly useful I would climb over the barrier.
9 Our Public Programs/Education Officer maintains Twitter and Facebook as part of her job, as an employee of local government, both these social networking tools are blocked to me in work hours (at present). WWCC staff need special permission enabling them to access these sites.
10 I am actively working on integrating social media into my work. Hope to go live early in 2010.

Question 2.

In what traditional ways do you communicate with the public, or audience? (that is not 'social media')
Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
work with affiliated societies 65.4% 17
give museum tours 65.4% 17
present talks and tours onsite 80.8% 21
present talks and tours offsite 61.5% 16
conduct workshops 50.0% 13
answer public enquiries by telephone 88.5% 23
answer public enquiries by written letter 80.8% 21
publish books 38.5% 10
publish academic papers 50.0% 13
give media interviews 65.4% 17
other 26.9% 7
if Other: what other ways do you use? 9
answered question 26
if Other: what other ways do you use?
1 The other is email - much dialogue and contact
2 write articles for the more popular media
3 Face to face personal interaction, emails, telephone
4 We have a regular (read-only) website a present, ie little more than a brochure, does that count as 'social media'?
Wall labels (with or without extended texts) in public areas.
5 catalogue publications, publish journal articles, advocate on behalf of the sector in a professional and social capacity
6 Answer public enquiries by email.
Arrange and conduct public events at the museum.
7 write and distribute a newsletter
8 Through exhibitions
9 Develop exhibitions, answer public enquiries by email.

Question 3.

When something you produce in your role is "peer reviewed", who do you consider to be your 'peers'?
Answer Options Response Count
answered question 17
Response Text
1 Depends who I'm producing for. For a review of something I produce in my area of expertise, I'd consider (and want) my peers to be those who have comparable or higher levels of expertise in that field. For more general output, I'd consider everyone my peers
2 my colleagues in the same botanical field
3 Other museum professionals
4 Museum/gallery professionals or University academics in appropriate specialties.
5 Academics and those with a significant working background in my field as well as museum professionals at a similar level to myself
6 Others who work in my field at or above my level of qualifications and experience.
7 Academics, either in the museum world or at university level.
8 Colleagues in my department.
9 In my current role, it is my in-house colleagues. As an independent writer, it is my co authors, subjects and participants and/or those who have been involved.
10 Other professionals in the field.
11 Other curators and academics
12 Senior and respected curators, with academic credentials
13 Fellow curators
14 Other museum professionals and some academics
15 Museum professionals, science communicators
16 Other museum professionals (and those who work in the heritage industry, even in a volunteer capacity).
17 Curators, academics, collectors, and museum educators with knowledge of the same subject(s).

The impacts of social media (for both active and non-active participants in social media at work)

Question 1.

"The up and coming younger generation has been dubbed "generation c", the 'c' standing for content or even curator! This essentially refers to the fact that this generation is one that uses social media to curate their own content, and content of others, such as photo galleries on Flickr, or blog content. With museums rushing to put collections and content online do you see the role of a traditional curator becoming redundant and/or changing?
Answer Options Response Count
answered question 67
Response Text
1 changing
2 Not redundant, but definitely changing to meet new audiences, expectations and technologies
3 Certainly not redundant - but definitely changing.
4 Changing, but not redundant. Somebody needs to be responsible for the content, to herd any responses to the content, they will hopefully have the time to take an overview of any additional information or facilitate discussion about the content, to make the real object accessible.
5 Not either really. I can see it learning to work with people in new ways, but the role itself I see remaining the same.
6 Yes, changing.
7 yes changing! will have to be more adaptive and open to a 'conversation' with the public
8 Not redundant but certainly changing. I think everyone wants to be a curator and I'm happy to support the world at large in creating their own experiences and content. Everyone can do sums or gardening, but not everyone is an accountant or a landscape architect. I'd make the same argument re social media content creators and professional museum/gallery curators.
9 Not at all, presenting great content is extremely important and facilating interactions, it more than mediums are changing.
10 redundant, no. Changing, yes.
11 I don't think we'll ever be redundant. There are still real-life standards that need to be upheld in order to preserve physical bits of history. I do think our role will change in regards to new advances with technology and the internet. We have to know how to engage with our audience and the audience is ever changing. The media the audience use is ever changing and we must adapt.
12 No, its fundamentally the same, but the circle of contacts and contributors has expanded, which is good.
13 No, not redundant. But many will need to change the way they work so as to engage more with audiences to share understanding of those collections. In so doing, they better justify their role, too.
14 No - just the curator may have to respond more to audience needs
15 changing, yes...redundant, no.
16 I see it changing, but not becoming redundant. I think there will still be a role for participating in the conversations as a specialist who can provide background and context that most users might not have otherwise
17 changing
18 No, I see it remaining much the same, but using different tools. It has always been a curator's job to manage and catalogue collections. We still do that, but with different tools than they had 30 years ago (or even 10!).
19 i don't see the role becoming redundant. i think curators have more opportunity now to understand the interests of their local community and to come up with creative ways of encouraging participation.
20 I see the role of the curator as changing. The knowledge of the whole world can be made available for one object. No single person would ever know that much. But the curator still has a role with exhibitions re collating, creating, coming up with the ideas and making them work in a practical way. Not everyone has that vision. Curator's role is to lead and organise other people into achieving the vision
21 Redundant no, changing yes.
22 I see it changing, just as publishing mediums always change and adapt to meet modern times. I don't believe that old media or the traditional curator's role will become redundant, but I think it NEEDS to change in order to stay relevant.
23 on-line content does not necessarily negate the value or role of people continuing to work [physically] with material culture - if disciplinary knowledge and education are not valued however then yes, curators as they currently exist are not relevant
24 No. Digital media may add layers of content and access but the basic idea of curation is still about bringing together actual things, people, texts etc in an organised and coherent way.
25 No - what the social media often lack is informed content.
It's got to be more than an opportunity to pick and mix, but in monitoring the pick and mix museums can see what is of interest and track societal changes.
26 Definitely changing, but in a good way
27 Not at all. With more and more of our collections going online, we need to ensure that Museums retain the value of providing high quality data. You often see money being spent on making data accessible but rarely do you see funds for data verification. That's what curators do.
28 the role of the curator will change, however the principles will become more and more important
29 Not at all - curators still need in many cases to be the public face of collecting institutions and to be available to meet with potential donors, other heritage professionals etc. Online content merely expands the reach of the research curators undertake as part of their daily working lives.
30 I don't see the role of curator ever becoming redundant. In fact I welcome the fact that more and more people are starting to understand what I do! The act of 'curating' is very personal and I am endlessly fascinated by the choices people make and the reasoning behind those choices.
31 No, not redundant but possibly changing.
32 Since it is the Curator's job (in my case) to prepare items to be put online, by photography, catalogue entry or other brief description which makes them more "accessible" to the (general) public, then there is necessarily change. I do not envisage redundancy!
33 Not redundant, but broadening.
34 No - museum curators create the real content that 'gen c' can use and reuse. gen c are more like harvesters and reusers and in doing that they are curators.
35 Changing perhaps, but not becoming redundant - a curator is still needed as the source of verifiable insight and expertise, to introduce the public to things they don't yet know, and to lead the way
36 I think it might change as social networking becomes more common place. Still, in my institution the social networking tools are used by the marketing department to develop customer relationships. They are not yet seen as an extension of the museums content or experience.
37 I don't see the role of a curator becoming redundant, curators are needed to help bring accurate and engaging content to the people. But I do see the role changing.
38 The role of a curator has been changing in many ways in different types of museums for a couple decades. Online content is just another road taken. Museums are putting, as usual, all their limited funds where the new trends are and collections care & content expertise has been and continues to be at the bottom of the funding heap.
39 Changing, yes. Redundant, no. People still look to us to provide content and as the voice of authority/experience/whatever.
40 I don't see the role of a traditional curator becoming redundant, as our knowledge about the collections is invaluable. Our role is changing as it must do to the times, however, behind museum collections are the stories connected to objects, in space and time. Although collections online, is a goal encouraged by managers, we continue to have enquiries as usual.
41 Changing - need for better collection documentation (checking accuracy of donor's information, taking images, etc), anticipate greater role in answering public enquiries, more of a struggle to get resources to manage physical collection
42 changing
43 It has changed from inward-looking in the research phase and outward-looking in the exhibition/ publication phase, towards outward-looking most of the time (which is a good thing as long as it does not spell 'consumed by triviality'). The problem with 'curating one's own content' is that it is probably for one's peers rather than for a broad audience. I hope there will always be a place for deep analytical thinking, audience-directed creativity, and curators willing and able to take responsibility for collections and for using objects to communicate important ideas.
44 Definitely changing but people still respond to the traditional museum object display and that is what they come to museums for.
45 Not really; there is no substitute for examining the "real thing"! In terms of changes, I think it is helpful - allowing more people to explore ideas together and advance our studies.
46 Changing, more outreach, education and interaction. Not just collection management, but raising awareness.
47 Not becoming redundant. The central role stays the same, but we just use new tools to communicate with our audiences and conduct research etc.
48 Not redundant but certainly changing.
49 Changing, definitely. Not redundant, though.
50 It shouldn't be, as curators are the main holders of content about the collections, but this is no longer valued. It is changing, increasingly to a housekeeping role and the interpretation aspect tends to sit with educators.
51 Yes at the moment there's more emphasis on being content providers.
52 What you do with information might change but a curator has a role in collecting. Through working with a collection over time you build a deep knowledge that can't be picked up by reading websites.
53 Since I believe that the role of "curator" in a museum requires a depth of specialist knowledge, I do not believe that the role of curator will become redundant, but it will change to better encompass the social media as research tools.
54 I see the placing of content on the web as an excellent way of increasing the relevance of museums and justifying their existence
55 Yes, if they don't keep up with IT changes
56 I do see the curator's role as changing, but the curator's role has change a lot over the years. Every new generation has a different (more sophisticated?) way of seeing things and learning about them.
57 Yes - more to one of an arbiter, interpreter or commentator
58 Someone still has to identify and protect the integrity of the artefacts
59 I don't think we will become redundant, but the role may change to be more accommodating of other views. Call it community consultation with a wider brief that is community driven! I still think the authority and expertise of curators in museums is important but we always welcome new information from the public anyway - social media just improves the process by which we can receive it [but perhaps may also increase the 'junk mail' factor that will need filtering out].
60 I don't think the role of the traditional curator will become redundant, as posting photographs on flickr, or uploading content onto YouTube for instance is very different to producing an exhibition for the community to enjoy - the younger generation are not always interested in history, more the technology involved. I think the role of the traditional curator (and indeed, museum) is changing to keep up with technological changes.
61 Yes.
62 no
63 Yes - changing, but if we want to continue to be curators, we need to be open minded and evolve with time
64 Changing, becoming curators of information yet still holders of knowledge
65 I think there will always be a need for very the contextual knowledge curators provide. Expertise and authority have become democratized, to everybody's benefit, but curators help put the work of amateur historians in broader context based on scholarship and collections knowledge.
66 Not redundant. On the contrary, who will produce accurate content for online distribution?
67 Changing - yes

Question 2.

Do you think social media has impacted on your job as a curator in a positive way? if so how?
Answer Options Response Count
answered question 66
Response Text
1 to me it feels like one extension of the many curatorial tasks we undertake. Technology changes and the means of delivery changes but the creation of curatorial content and maintaining networks of people have always been a core activity for curators
2 It has, by allowing another avenue of communicating interpretation
3 Yes. The job is more interesting and engaging. I am constantly challenged to learn new skills and content.
4 Mostly positive. However, I still hold traditional views, not elitist though, that Museums should still be in control and that curators have expertise which should not be 'drowned' out by this drive for giving audiences more control and ability to interpret our collections and determine what we do etc. Having said that, however, social media is a great way to inspire audiences and create new interests and get the word out there about the wonderful work Museums do.
5 It has put me in contact with other museum people, I have encountered interesting articles and practices that I might not have otherwise done.
6 Not really my job specifically. It has had a positive impact on spreading the word of our museum, our objects, programs and themes.
7 Yes, widens audience and interest in our sector.
8 yes, through using social media I'm extending networks and learning more about our audience.
9 Has enabled connection with many more people and opened us up to much wider audience. More opportunity to connect with information useful to us in documenting the collection we're responsible for and creating our programs
10 Yes, I have interacted with audience members through sharing photos and comments online.
11 Connection with colleagues, content and audiences that would be impossible to manage otherwise.
12 Yes, I feel like I have a real hand in how my museum is presented in the real-world. I have the opportunity to hear/read feedback we're not getting in more "traditional" ways.
13 Yes, as above.
14 It has increased job security; it has brought attention to aspects of our collections or our work that were less well-known before; it has brought economic benefits to our city as we know a number of people have travelled very long distances to see the subjects of our webcam project in person.
15 Yes - it has allowed reach to a wider audience.
16 Yes, more contact with others from across the globe....
17 yes. I started playing around with twitter just last summer to see what the big deal was and get information out about our museum. What I didn't expect was the impact it would have on my network of contacts and awareness of what's going on elsewhere. I now find out a lot about relevant articles, blogs, online collections access through twitter and have followed several conferences on twitter that I otherwise wouldn't have even known were going on.
18 definitely positive - our backroom herbarium specimens will soon be able to be viewed by anyone anywhere in the world
19 Yes, it has allowed me to present information about an item or topic, respond to anniversaries, or content in the news in a timely manner.
20 yes. social media has made me think more frequently about the purpose of an exhibition, about who our audience is and their interests and about the amount of competition we face in terms of getting people to come to a museum in their 'down time' rather than go to the cinemas for example. these are all things i have been previously aware of but i now think of on a regular basis.
21 The only way that it has impacted in a positive way is through enabling us to place our collections on line. But you still need someone to do the cataloguing work - not always possible in a small museum
22 Being able to get information out to 'new' audiences is a good thing. Also, the format of blogs allows for shorter postings of information, though it still has to be well researched and referenced as the posts I put up are the intellectual property of the museum.
23 I think being able to engage directly with the public online provides a personalised experience for the web user - and one that is expected in today's media environment. As a curator, the essence of my job is to communicate and to engage the public in history. Social media enables me to do this in a more relevant way than through articles or traditional publishing mediums.
24 our institution has nor really grappled with the potentials of social media; but spread of information can intrigue, can lead for quest for primary information which curators as researchers are responsible for producing [sometimes]
25 Yes in terms of the amount of information available.
26 Y
27 Yes, more input from others, more ideas shared.
28 Yes - no longer is our audience restricted to those who walk in the front door. We now have a world web audience.
29 yes and no

it does allow for more and more people to have access, but not necessarily increase access to those who need it the most as far as connecting with collections
30 Yes, while I was working at the National Museum of Australia news of my first exhibition on political cartooning was posted on facebook for a general audience and I received an enormous amount of positive feedback from friends and strangers alike.
31 Yes. I have found working on my work blog very rewarding and have had great feedback from my group. I subscribe to several museum blogs and have found myself exploring the work of international museums much more regularly than I have done for years.
32 Yes, it provides another means of researching information, making contact with others, promoting collections and curators
33 It/they has/have not had any appreciable effect on visitor numbers. Perhaps a very slight upswing in queries from the public. I have not looked to see what the public are saying about us, apart from positive comments on some personal blog sites.
34 Not so far.
35 yes it has enabled curators more freedom to bring out and discuss collections. writing and publishing experience that would otherwise would not be available.
36 Not much so far. There is much yet to be done. We have produced youtube films that had some success, and I had a major role in their creation, but there has not been much effect on me since they were made.
37 In some respects its made information dissemination more efficient, but its too early to tell if it is effective.
38 So far, the impact has been positive. I feel like we have been able to share more about our collection and exhibitions to an interested audience. As well, the NHM blog has introduced new audiences to the museum and its resources.
39 It's an interesting option for getting collections out there when exhibits don't provide that option, however with staff reductions and ever increasing work loads it is stressful to try to add that to the menu.
40 I'm still not a curator, but my job has changed greatly from dealing only with the collection to incorporate new technologies. This allows us to directly address our patrons, and helps facilitate an understanding of the resources we offer and what we do.
41 It is difficult to keep up with the social media phenomenon, and for our museum, much of that work is carried out in association with events.
42 No - as yet little impact.
43 yes, more opportunities to publish and read others, freer writing style
44 Email has had positive impact, and writing blogs is a pleasant activity that is widening our audience. It's up to us to use the more chatty style of the blog to get across ideas we think are important.
45 Yes as I get to create a greater understanding of what it takes to develop an exhibition through sharing my fieldwork photographs on Flickr.
46 Yes - I think it offers the opportunity to get questions answered more quickly and bring a larger number of people into the questions that we explore.
47 Yes - different perspective on collections and their use and re-use for different client groups.
48 Yes, it provides another way that we can find out how the 'public' are interacting with our institution, and hopefully encourage people to interact more.
49 Yes. I hink we need to keep up with the times and it is necessary to reach other younger audiences in new ways.
50 Reading museum based blogs has been great. Distance is no longer an object.
51 It should impact more that it does, as my institution is somewhat recicent/misguided about involvement in social media. I can see all sorts of positive benefits
52 Yes, its easier to find information. More outlets for conversations about objects.
53 Yes. Having the collection on line has shared it with the world. We've had lots of useful feedback and it feels like the collection has become more relevant.
54 It can assist in research and collection development by providing access to a pool of colleagues who may have the information one needs.
55 Yes it has and Its often to daunting sometimes
56 I have not noticed an impact either way, but we are still fairly new to using social media.
57 Yes - a more personal level of contact enables the public to see the museum in a less institutionalised and more personal way. Social media also provide more ways of getting messages quickly and effectively out there to an new audience about the collections and the museum's programs.
58 I am excited by the possibilities of social media for accessing other people's [the public and specialists] knowledge about objects, events, stories etc. I think discovering how other people creatively interpret our collections will be an eye-opener and it will assist me efficiently communicate with others around the world in ways that could not have been done so easily previously.
59 I think social media impacts on my job in a positive way. Sites like Facebook and Twitter enable us to receive feedback in a direct way, from people who may not otherwise have engaged with our museum.
60 Yes. I feel that there are more opportunities to engage with people in a non-specialized way if necessary (I am a generalist not a Ph.D. specialist)
61 yes in some ways
62 Positive way
63 connect with more people, more possibilities for communication
64 Yes. It has connected me with a broader community of museum professionals interested in the participatory museum, and with citizen historians interested in using the museum as a platform to share their knowledge about ham radio, etc.
65 It gives one hope of reaching new audiences. (That assumes that social media produces tangible benefits, which in the US means revenue, among other things.)
66 I think so, although I have yet to contribute actively yet. Others have uploaded material that I have been involved in generating (eg museum events and activities)

Question 3.

Do you think social media has impacted on your job as a curator in a negative way? if so how?
Answer Options Response Count
answered question 61
Response Text
1 Yes. It can be very stressful to keep up.
2 See above
3 I'm still smarting from my managerial demand to divorce myself. I resent not being able to tweet honestly and freely. I acknowledge that there must be professionalism but all curators are also human.
4 No.
5 No.
6 No
7 Operating in the social media environment seems to take much of our time and it does generate much pointless and often opinionated personal chatter. Wading through this for the occasional gem is not my idea of grounded research. I'm not convinced this is what I'm paid to do though appreciate the www is our market too.
8 No.
9 It can be a huge time suck if one isn't careful and mindful about how one chooses to participate.
10 It sometimes feels like just another thing I have to keep up with. But I do see that it is here to stay and as long as someone in the institution has their finger on the pulse, we can keep our head above water.
11 Not really.
12 Yes. I stay up later at night, so end up a bit more tired during the day sometimes!
13 No
14 More responsibilities, more ways of communicating that take time away from the actual job...There are too many ways to communicate, which means it is easy to spend too much time communicating and have little time left over to actually do the work!
15 hmmm. Not really except in that it takes time and these days my schedule is so overloaded anyway that I sometimes question in the context of a particular day or week whether I'm spending time on social media that I should be applying to other things that need my attention. Taking a broader view, though, I feel that the cost/benefit analysis definitely comes down on the positive side.
16 the sheer volume of emails is hard to keep up with
17 You can open yourself to unhappy people with agendas/critisms in a way you haven't before, That can be quite stressful.
18 if so i haven't really noticed it yet. i think it certainly does mean we have to be more accountable about what we do and opens us up for criticism but this is probably a good thing.
19 No
20 Yes. It is very time demanding, and not factored into work plans at all.
21 No. Definitely not. I feel VERY strongly about this, it is positive! Even if it is experimental, it is positive to try to find new ways of communicating history.
22 it's a bit 'death of the author' - I don't think as curators we have grasped and dealt with the impact of the loss of a [possibly antiquated] sense of the authority of expertise in which curators used to be immersed/ grounded
23 Possibly - too much information? Seriously, it takes up a lot of time.
24 N
25 Time consuming!!
26 Negative in that there are still the same number of work hours but now there are more tasks. The trick is to find out which tasks to stop doing.
27 social media has just provided more work with less resources. there is no quality control over the information that is coming in. also those who have access are not necessarily those who have the most informed and correct information to give.
28 No. I really do see it as having opened up a window to a whole new world of ideas and collegiate support and I wonder why it has taken me so long to get on board.
29 No.
30 A bit more work - but that is probably good in the long term!
31 Not so far.
32 no
33 Social media staff employed at my organisation have not been very understanding about the nature of historical research/knowledge, and wanted immediate answers to things that take weeks of research. Gap between what is wanted and what is possible is widening.
34 No.
35 There is a lot to learn. I have quite a bit of catching up to do.
36 Yes, time pressures.
37 It takes a lot of time, but is worth it.
38 Although curators are encouraged to write blogs, the temporality of those sites such as flicker and twitter make it less appealing.
39 No - as yet little impact.
40 no
41 There's a bit more pressure on my time, but there was never enough time to do all I'd like to do.
42 Not as yet.
43 Need to balance traditional management, arrangement and cataloguing of collections against advocacy, education and raising awareness of collections and how they can be used.
44 No.
45 Yes, having to provide a diversity of content means there is less time for the traditional curatorial roles of object research and exhibition development.
46 No.
47 See above
48 Takes some of the mystery and magic out of curating and out of museum collections because nothing is hidden-all is revealed.
It's like a giant meeting that never ends and I sometimes get a sense that everything has been said and done before.
I'm disappointed that it doesn't have a greater impact in feeding back knowledge into our collections.
49 Yes. We are deluged with public enquiries! It has also added stress because it's another skill that I magically have to pick up.
50 Time is wasted having to deal with the complaints or ill-informed comments of individuals who seek to "show up the curator" when their own knowledge of the subject is cursory or incorrect
51 Yes. I feel there is a greater expectation that curators should participate in social media and yet curators are a cross section of society and not all the public participate. A curator who is that way inclined will do a better job- leave 'em to it!
52 No
53 Sorry -- see answer to question 2.
54 Yes - harder to anticipate workload and managing it in the future. In the first instance, it demands more time in becoming familiar with different ways of communicating which is negative only in placing more demands on finite time resources.
55 It hasn't yet but there is some anxiety at my museum that it may generate a lot of work that we may not be able to deal with, both junk mail type responses as well as interesting responses. We will wait and see!
56 No, can't think of any ways it has to date.
57 No, not really.
58 yes - its doubled the workload
59 No-never
60 made me time poor
61 It's part of the ever-increasing time crunch, and when I prioritize social media I'm deprioritizing other parts of my curatorial work.

Question 4.

Does your workplace offer training in using social media?
Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Yes 47.1% 32
No 52.9% 36
If yes: what kind of training? 33
answered question 68
If yes: what kind of training?
1 In a limited fashion. There has been some guidance in the mechanics of blogging but little in other areas.
2 Basic information
3 Blog workshops; Google Earth and YouTube posts.
4 I'm the one who has taken twitter to marketing and conferencing. No other training has been offered.
5 workshops.
6 In-house gatherings/ workshops to discuss new social media and how it works.
7 Erika's blog training!
8 Blog writing and techniques workshops.
9 I come from an active background as a craft blogger. Amateur/volunteer curator bloggers are different to professional museum people. We don't have to worry about who is reviewing us (either formally or informally). So my training was on the ground, in the craft sector. I can find very few volunteers in museums blogging, and there are none in genealogy - probably because the Rootsweb system offers brilliant mailing lists.
10 They usually provide one on one, or section training on request, mostly for blogging as this is the thing most staff can easily get access to.
11 blog training is currently being offered. next year we will be trained in flickr, facebook, creating wikis etc.
12 I am about to attend a podcast workshop to learn about podcasting
13 I had special training to learn the back-end blogging process.
14 I was provided with blog training to maintain the project blog. This basically involved learning to use the CMS.
15 Workshops on producing online content for teaching and learning, podcasting, etc.

General support for projects involving eg: Twitter, Facebook, Second Life.
16 Writing for the web workshops, how to use facbook and twitter
17 Public speaking
18 not formal training but we assist each other and peer edit
19 Pretty casual, among colleagues.
20 Some. Mostly it's learn as you go with certain staff selected to have more expertise, but when they leave for another job we start all over again.
21 Blog training as far as I know. The type of content people maybe interested in, and how we can use exhibitions or an object to draw attention and dialogue with the public. Not sure about the other sites.
22 blog workshop
23 A casual-feeling space called 'Thinkspace' where groups can work with software using smart boards.
Demo and notes on using WordPress.
I guess there are training packages available for anyone in the IT department.
24 Informal and formal.
25 One of one from web team staff. Recommendations of Web 2.0 tutorials that can be used to 'learn' social media.
26 How to write blog posts.
But it would be good to have more training on social media in general and its application in my work.
27 workshops
28 Sorry Erika. I missed your workshop!
29 Basic introductions to the use of some social media.
30 Forums with international guests (which I have usually attended when able). Formal training and explication of various forms eg Facebook and Flikr
31 Blog workshop, guest speakers in social media issues and subject matter
32 I have suggested that we have training re using blogs, accessing interesting web2 resources, using flickr and picasa, utube, twitter etc. Training may possibly happen next year, and may possibly use my professional network blog as a case-study along with some other case-studies from my institution.
33 Our training would most commonly be in the form of us being given the opportunity to attend workshops outside of the region. Our public programs/education officer recently attended a workshop on Podcasting run by the Powerhouse Museum.

Question 5.

Would you like more workplace training in using social media?
Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Yes 71.2% 47
No 28.8% 19
answered question 66

Question 6

What do you think is the biggest impact social media has had on your role as a curator?
Answer Options Response Count
answered question 68
Response Text
1 Social media extends the reach of curatorial work but these needs have to be carefully weighed against a curators other functions. Good time management, a focus on the integration of social media into your workflow, utilising meaningful content, and not becoming too caught up with the latest trends are essential.
2 See 2 above
3 I spend less time actually engaged with collections.
4 Time - but feeling you need to validate the time you have spent on social media to your superiors, who may not see the worth in doing it.
5 writing - it has made me focus on what is important to say, and how it can be said well
6 Allowing me to share information in new ways to new audiences.
7 Widening audience.
8 exposing the role of the curator and uncovering museum processes. opening up discussions with the public.
9 Adds further demand on our time and we're already overloaded.
10 Closer connection to audience.
11 making it easier to know what's going on in the world without having to attend every conference.
12 I have had to do a lot of tutorials (to fellow staff) on SM. I have had to take time to explain not only how to use it, but WHY!
13 Its impact on my job has generally been positive. Its impact on the museum I work for has also been positive in some respects but negative in others.
To be specific about this: The Powerhouse has for some years failed to create credible exhibition and publishing program due to management, financial and curatorial shortcomings.
Social media, and digital media generally have often used as a way of excusing these failings, sometimes via absurd statements to the effect that exhibitions and publications are outdated media forms.
Of course these different media are ideally complementary but unfortunately they are often presented as oppositions by those with agendas.
14 It has shown me that there are so many exciting ways to engage with audiences, but so little time to do it in.
15 It has made me busier!
16 More possibilities, less time.
17 broadening the pool of people (mostly professional colleagues, but some audience as well) that I interact with.
18 Public access to me - which is hard to keep up with
19 Currently, not a huge impact in my day to day work. I do spend a bit of time writing blogs, that I would have used for something else, but it is not a huge amount of time overall. It has had more of an impact on providing me with a higher level of control over what I write about, and how it is presented for the public. My blog content is reviewed by my supervisor before going online, However, I am not limited by what the traditional media (including the museum's own magazine) may want, or the rules of academic writing etc. I can choose my own topics, writing style and images to match.
20 it has allowed me to engage with the public in a new forum. i hope it will allow us to interact with younger audiences and to be mindful of our virtual visitors as well as our physical ones.
21 More input from other interested people re exhibitions. It's good
22 The demand on my time. And the fact that stories need to be up 'NOW'.
23 It has changed my role about 25% towards providing timely, relevant and interesting information directly to the public.
24 that underpinning notion that all information is valid flows on to an alarming sense within the institution that any information we disseminate is valid no matter the source or content - so I guess I'm lamenting the loss of curatorial authority, and the sense that not all knowledge is equal
25 Changing audience expectations for how ideas and other content is delivered.
26 What am I allowed to write and what aren't I?
27 Digitisation of collections
28 It has given our Museum collection a brand new valuable role and provided us with a wide range of new stakeholders - Building a Virtual Biosecurity Collection, PaDIL - Pests and Diseases Image Library
29 more work no resources to support a commitment to social media
30 The ability to advertise upcoming exhibitions and collections content to an audience that would other wise not visit or be interested in what the museum has to offer.
31 The biggest impact on my role has been that I now have back-up for my feeling that putting out little bits of information in a timely manner rather than waiting until the magnusopum is finished is sometimes the best option! It has also allowed me to really broaden my network of contact and like-minded souls both within the industry and among our audience base.
32 Providing another means by which audiences/piers can provide feedback.
33 If you count Wikipedia, then that has without doubt been the biggest impact for me, although just as much the links as the site content itself.
34 Not much impact, if any so far.
35 It has developed my writing skills and confidence
36 Further demands on time.
37 I don't think it has had a big impact on me yet. But I can see changes coming on the horizon. I just don't know what changes to expect.
38 It is another useful way to get our message out . As a tool it has tons of potential, here we have only scratched the surface.
39 See above.
40 It is wonderful to see what people are interested in and what resonates with them. Always surprising.
41 I don't know really. Recently I discovered an exhibition in Auckland that focused on the social media phenomenon such as Bebo, twitter, flickr. The display was of photographs/images taken from those sites and plastered on a large wall canvas. It made me realise that material culture is changing and that perhaps I and may be some of my colleagues were behind in the times?
42 Focus on development of database, and need to prepare web content during exhibition development.
43 provided more and richer information sources.
44 Email has improved productivity.
Blogs provide new opportunities to communicate.More content is available on line eg through Flickr and YouTube - all grist to the curatorial mill.
45 The statistics are yet to be seen if there is a real audience for this I believe and if it is worth putting in the time. I enjoy using social media so happy to do it but not sure if we're reaching new audiences or attracting visitors.
46 Getting the word out about our collection.
47 Opportunity for widespread feedback and more direct interaction with a wider range of public and users of the collections.
48 More direct interaction with the public
49 A realisation that curators are no longer the holders of knowledge but now the brokers of knowledge.
50 Blogs.
51 There is (good) pressure to get information out there, to improve our accessibility and engage with our audiences
52 new outlets for writing about objects. Potential to have somebody write something back that increases knowledge/ history of objects.
53 Opening the collection to the world has made my work more relevant.
54 The number of public enquiries has decreased dramatically, as people seek information from other online sources (eg: Wikipedia, blogs, forums) before consulting a curator.
55 A pet hate ot mine is talk-back radio - elements of social media remind me of this!
56 Making communication much easier to access
57 Again, it really hasn't yet. I do like the potential of it, particularly the reach of social media and the ability for instant feedback.
58 A realisation of the potrtential of web based media for promoting the collection and expanding our audience
59 na
60 Creating networks with peers and the public where we can use full multimedia to communicate ie images, videos, text etc.
61 The biggest social impact would be the opportunity that I have as curator to make our local stories and the museum collection available to a wider audience, some of whom are not traditional museum visitors. It's also a great opportunity to make our Museum known nationally and internationally.
62 An opportunity to offer behind-the-scenes info to a wider public and demystify the personality of the institution to people who may have felt intimidation prior to connecting. Lots of responsibility in that new relationship, but ultimately fun and freeing.
63 time
64 Attracted large crowds to what I do
65 The world has opened up, can connected with many many more people
66 I think it's made me accessible to the public in an unprecedented way. Also, I think my blogging and interest in digital public history has helped me find employment and speaking opportunities.
67 Thinking through the ways in which it might be constructively used to provide useful content to new groups of users.
68 To be honest I'm not sure, but maybe that says something in itself

Question 7.

Any further comments?
Answer Options Response Count
answered question 27
Response Text
1 Changes in fashion for social media interfaces are interesting, I would like to know how people keep up and what you do with an abandoned media. Can it disappear, or is it like the spooky derelict house?
2 no
3 While initially there was a steep learning curve and a huge amount of hours invested in using social media, I have come to treat it as a part of daily activities and see it more as an effective, productive part of my time. Having said that, there is still a fair bit of my time invested keeping up with social media interactions adding to the overall workload. Internally at the museum, I feel there needs to be more support and understanding from managers and colleagues about using social media in the museum context. We need further discussions about how social media impacts out work, workloads and the way we do things. I feel social media is an important tool for engaging with our audiences but I don't think this idea is widely accepted within the Australian Museum staff.
4 Personally, I guess I prefer developing professional relationships in the real rather than the virtual world. I can see what social media offers, but as paid public servants I think we must be selective in how we use it, be discriminating and accountable. I'm still to be convinced that the benefits of social media to our work justify the time spent in that domain, that the impressive hit statistics actually mean anything worthwhile.
5 Great questions :D
6 Only that this questionnaire is targeted at those employed in museums. There are one heck of a lot of us out there in a volunteer capacity as well. Unfortunately not a lot of bloggers I can point to though. And I probably don't read a lot of the professional blogs, as they are so full of jargon and exclusive (rather than inclusive) language.
7 no
8 i would love to find some examples of what other regional museums and art galleries do with social media as we are currently looking at increasing our virtual presence.
9 I look forward to the day that I can specialise as a digital/new media curator!
10 good luck!
11 Exciting times
12 Social Media is here whether people like it or not. Are museums equipped to handle the work created by social media mixing with collections. Collections will go on line, there's no doubt whether curators want it or not. Money and acknowledgement of the powers who believe they have ownership will determine that not necessary the wellbeing of the collection. There are so many issues to deal with in regards to Collections and social media, I'm not sure if there is a museum around who is resourced to cope with this work load.
13 I think its essential that smaller institutions quickly develop an online social media presence including training curators in online content delivery. outreach of this kind in an age where google is the only method of research for many people will have a huge impact in visitor numbers, donations, bequests and general interest in smaller or specialist museums.
14 Social media can be a useful tool, but it's not something curators can necessarily do on top of their day-to-day jobs - it will have to be made an organisational priority to free up the time they need to do it. It is very demanding in terms of time. Conversely, if social media experts manage an organisation's media output, then there are potential problems with credibility and reputation. It is an issue yet to be solved.
15 Consider that there are people working with collections and technology who are not curators.
16 Social media has great potential, but without effective resourcing and integration in strategic planning may stagger along in the museum sector. May also leave older generation behind unless effort made to train and upgrade knowledge. And am most concerned about what resources it drains from other areas since our resources are so finite: what will we have to sacrifice?
17 um, you know like
18 As part of the ACT Government we do not have access to Facebook or MySpace, which makes it difficult to use these as a tool, other than by working on them from home.
19 Having access to the public, especially when they comment online about information in our collection, has been very beneficial. I have personally added quite significant information through being contacted by family members who owned or used the objects as well as other experts in the field who contacted me to complain about some inaccuracies. This brought me in contact with experts around the world and improved the documentation. Curators can never be experts on everything.
20 The gatekeeps of IT are holding back Local Government based cultural institutions from using Web 2.0. This counts just as much for Libraries and Visual Arts as it does for Museums. Our new audiences are out there waiting for us. Will our organisations have the courage to reach out to them?
21 It would be wonderful to tell people what we do and involve them in processes such as disposal and acquisition, research, how exhibitions run, contributing to our collection, but I am not able to do that ...yet
22 I feel a bit guilty about social media, it feels so self indulgent.
23 Social media can be fantastic tools for research and information (and a great way to keep in touch with colleagues), but become problematic as information sources when people without deep knowledge of a topic (or with political or other axes to grind) present themselves in social media as experts and thereby misinform or mislead the public who are seeking information.
24 It is too easy to reject all that is new so I make it a priority to attempt to learn. However, while I can see the validity of social media in terms of porosity / demystification of the museum, on a personal level am yet to be convinced of how important my role is this area and am happy to let others who are are keen to take the lead.
25 Thanks for the opportunity
26 In large institutions sometimes there is less capacity for training and take up of social media as specialist roles cater to it and it doesn't drip down to other staff.
27 I believe social media is very effective if done in the right way. It is a handy tool for all aspects of curating and exhibiting

Cite as:

Dicker, E., The Impact of Blogs and Other Social Media on the Life of a Curator. In J. Trant and D. Bearman (eds). Museums and the Web 2010: Proceedings. Toronto: Archives & Museum Informatics. Published March 31, 2010. Consulted