April 9-12, 2008
Montréal, Québec, Canada

Demonstrations: Description

Reach new audiences, increase numbers of visitors, and become a major part of the local community by using online social networking sites and blogs

Ingrid Beazley, Dulwich Picture Gallery, United Kingdom

Using existing online communities and blogs the Friends of Dulwich Picture Gallery organization is reaching and attracting new and more diverse visitors, increasing interest and involvement in, and ultimately revenue for Dulwich Picture Gallery.

We have experienced marked successes with our user driven, dialogue friendly sites Facebook ( and Flickr (, launched in 2007, and there is considerable buzz around our plans for 2008, including the launch of our online magazine blog with which we are building a Gallery associated community (

Our problem:

  • We have an image problem. The Gallery Friends, the Gallery itself and, indeed, the Dulwich area suffer from the outdated but persistent perception that we are deeply old-fashioned and monocultural. And yet the reality is genuinely vibrant, socially diverse and eclectic.

Our solution (in progress):

  • By creating many experiments across the widest range of existing social networking models we are making links with the local community who in turn show what the Gallery and the area is really about through their own images, chat and opinions, and articles revealing a behind-the-scenes snapshot of Dulwich and its Picture Gallery.
  • We always ensure we can back each experiment with adequate resources and talent to ensure a high quality result that does justice to the Gallery we represent.
  • We believe the extent of what we are doing and the fact that we are all volunteers makes our project unique, certainly in the London area, but we hope to connect with others making use of the web in similar ways.

Benefits to date:

  • We have seen marked increase in the numbers and changes in the profile of people at events and supporting the Gallery
  • We are now maximizing the impact of each event in support of the Gallery by facilitating community involvement, links with many local sites etc.
  • We have created valuable new promotional assets eg thousands of visitor photos.
  • Thinking has shifted across the Gallery organization as a result of our education efforts to always make best use of our web tools.
  • Our online network has brought together disparate departments within Gallery as well as local groups.
  • We are attracting new types of volunteers, who are bringing valuable new skills to the gallery community eg professional photographers, writers, marketers, web specialists… all contributing their work for free.

What we will focus on in our demonstration:

  • We will show how the sites work; our link strategy which networks together all these different online experiences, including our formal Gallery website; how we promote our events and exhibition programmes; how we have rallied the organization around the effort and attracted volunteers.
  • We want to trade learning experiences about social networking more generally, how it can contribute to galleries and Friends organizations, how to manage risks, and what organizational framework enables a positive spirit of experimentation.
  • We aim to set up a wiki on social networking to swap ideas with other museums.

Demonstration: Demonstrations - 2 [Demonstrations]

Keywords: social networking sites, online community, blogs, flickr, facebook