This is a recorded session from the 2020 AAM Virtual Annual Meeting and MuseumExpo.
Learn more about how small museums are continuing to connect with their audiences, even when COVID‐19 forces museums to shut their doors. This session is hosted by Small Museum Administrators Committee.
AAM Session Monitor: I’d like to welcome everyone to today’s session; our facilitator Janice client will get us started. Janice, if you’ll just go ahead and unmute yourself. Great.
Janice Klein: Yeah, just getting them, welcome everyone to the session. Can we get the first slide up and pivoting your programming virtual and other unique options for small museums session is sponsored by the small museum administrators committee?
Of am and our session today is going to focus on examples of programming that can inspire small museums. To adjust to what I prefer to call the next normal I think someone else’s using that phrase, rather than the new normal because we don’t know what we’re going to end up with
Our next slide, I want to introduce our panelists, Rachel. Rachel line is the register and collections manager at the log house museum in Seattle.
And Bennett is the executive director of the laurel Historical Society in Laurel, Maryland.
Lynn Nelson Mason director of the Goldstein Museum of design in Minneapolis and Marjorie oh tool, the Executive Director of the little Compton Historical Society, and I’m sorry, Marjorie in Delaware. Is that correct,
Well, she’ll let us know if I got it wrong. Wrong. Oh, I’m sorry. In Rhode Island, um, before we get started, we have asked that Lynn share statement for us all.
Lin Nelson-Mayson: Thank you. I am from the University of Minnesota, the Goldstein Museum a design as part of that university and I have a statement about the land and about Minnesota history. The University of Minnesota Twin Cities is located on traditional ancestral and contemporary lands of indigenous people. The University resides on Dakota lands seated in the Treaties of 1837 and 1851 Minnesota history is marked by incidence of racial violence. It’s been one over 150 years since the US Dakota war of 1862. More recently, we know the tragedies of Mr. Clark for Lando cus steel and George Floyd.
Also, June 15 marks 100 years since a white mob in Duluth lynched Elias Clayton Elmer Jackson and Isaac Mickey three black men who had been falsely accused of crime, we say their names to honor their memory and to acknowledge the work that remains to be done.
Janice Klein: Thank you. Next, And Rachel, I think you take it away.
Rachel Regelein: Yeah, I’m so my historic society. The longhouse museum and Southwest Seattle Historical Society in Seattle. One of our big attractions every year is we do a homes with history tour. Traditionally, this has looked like.
Having an interpreter predation material and stationing doses throughout the house and grounds to kind of relate the story of you know, even the people that live there, the architect or whatever we’re focusing on. Obviously, we can’t do that this year. So, we explore different ways to turn this into a virtual experience.
We initially experience explored a few AR platforms including time Looper whenever we decided for our demographic that we needed something pretty easy in low tech to navigate so what we’re doing is we have a volunteer with a 360-degree camera. We’re going later this month to record the interior and exterior of the home.
In the meantime, the curator is working on the interpretive material and the current plan is to create a a YouTube video using YouTube where it’s going to be a combination of 363 60 video that they can kind of click through and explore the house that’s also punctuated with historical interpretation material, so it’ll it can viewers can go at their own pace, they can click around explorer, they can look at some of the artifacts that were hired that we’re highlighting in conjunction with it. I’m kind of cool to house we’re doing is the oldest continuously lived in house in Seattle, but it’s very small there wouldn’t be a way to observe social distancing, even if we’re restrictions are lifted the summer. So that’s what we’re doing for home tours this year.
And next oh, still be the other avenue that we’ve started is doing live programming. We have a monthly lecture series that we traditionally held in a few different locations usually or local library instead, we are now hosting these over zoom. In addition, we just held last week or first virtual workshop we let a program on how to digitize and care for family photos and that was a surprisingly huge hit. We had for our again very small organization. We had over 50 participants. We did a paid what you can model, we didn’t insist a certain pay level. And it was amazing. We raised a lot more money than we were anticipating, um, and it was interesting to see how people. What kind of value they assigned to the program?
We’re going to be going in continuing with that model because it not only helps us raise money, but it also gets rid of any economic accessibility barriers, I think we only have one or two people that didn’t pay anything. We have people pay as much as $100 most people were somewhere between $5 and $25.
Another event that we’re planning on is a more kid centric event where we’re going to show how to we’re mixing some crafts and activities along with some kind of historical narrative and stories around one of Seattle’s early founders. One of the big takeaways that we’ve learned from these is that you need at least two people to run these zoom events. The presenter is not going to be able to look at and moderate and handle all of the comments and questions.
Um. Additionally, we can’t afford the zoom webinar out on at our organization. And so that means that participants can easily kind of unmute themselves put themselves on video. So, you need somebody that’s helping people with tech, making sure people stay muted and also making sure that the presenter is asked any questions that they need.
Ann Bennett: Okay, um, that is me. Okay, so. Hi, everyone. My name is Anne Bennett. I’m the executive director of the laurel historical society. We’re a small community museum and archives and Maryland’s halfway between DC and Baltimore, and I’m very proud to represent a small museum, we have a staff of one and a half to one full time. That’s me. And another part time position and it’s been actually very good for our museum because we use these challenging times to be focused and creative in our connection to the community. And one thing that we came up with that I’m excited to do is what I’m calling these one take tours and this is a fast informal look at the current exhibits, which has only been up for six weeks before the museum closed.
So, one thing that the laurel Historical Society offers is a new exhibit every year from February to December. Was only up for six weeks before the museum had to close. And it’s really kind of awkward because it celebrates the 150th anniversary of the incorporation of the city of laurel, so it’s a very timely exhibit that we’re not going to be able to showcase for the whole year that as we had planned so this one take tour was a way to showcase different sections of the exhibit while our doors were closed and put a tremendous amount of effort into coming up with this exhibit and installing it and such a shame to have a distribution behind closed doors. So there one day tour was a way to do an informal tour. It was really just me and my smartphone and empty museum and whatever I could pop my phone up on and I just hit play and record and then I trimmed it up both ends on my phone. And it was really freeing for me because there wasn’t any pressure to get a perfect take, we didn’t have any money or resources to buy new equipment. And I think it actually goes over very well with our audience because the tone is really appealing as informal as not to professional or stuffy and it’s kind of similar to what you would get if I were giving you a tour in person at the museum and I recorded it on my phone or a tablet. I just trimmed it in whatever editing software comes with the computer and uploaded it to YouTube and kind of as a bonus, which we hadn’t intended is that we heard back from our docents that this is a really actually a great training tool for them to kind of learn more about the exhibit about the particular items that we have on display as a way for them to be able to get that background and history to answer questions and to lead tours, whenever we can open our museum again.
And then another thing we also did was we started with a free platform called Cleo and if you go to the Cleo calm and we’ll have those resources at the end of the webinar as well. You’ll be able to get that information. And this is great because Cleo again as a free way to upload pictures, videos, audio and include content and historical information about your museum. And if you have a bigger museum, you’d be able to do different walking tours and gallery tours of different sections of the museum, but that is my little museum there and the picture. It’s an 1840s, no workers house. So, it is very, very small. So, we really only have two rooms. That’s on display to the public. And so, we just have the Clio focus on our overall Museum in its history in Laurel
And as you can see, it’s also based in Google Maps. So, if you have multiple sites or multiple historic sites in your town, you can connect the dots so to speak and build a walking tour of virtual walking tours through this platform as well. So that was basically just free platform that we’re able to use and take advantage of to showcase not only our museum or current exerted but also the other history in the sights and moral and friends it for me right now. When I come back to you.
Lin Nelson-Mayson: Yeah, thank you. So we’re, we’re talking about virtual tours here and we had actually Goldstein museum a design had actually been part of a pilot project to bring exhibitions to the community prior to being shut down for the virus and we had developed to short 360 narrated tours of tour of our exhibitions primarily based on research that was conducted in senior centers and nursing homes that cultural content in 360 VR tours was meaningful and had more impact on state of mind then. Coming in and doing something that was kind of a one off that the person wasn’t as an engaged with, so we developed these 360 tours of two existing exhibitions storylines women in their wardrobe. And the demonstration garden does designing flowers both based in our collection and we posted these when we were shut down. Then we posted the 360s as YouTube videos, both on our website and links through social media. The other thing that we found that was quite interesting about these is that it did give our development staff and opportunity to take a 360 view were to donors who lived a distance away and be able to share those exhibitions with the donors as well.
What we found with the, the senior citizen project was that it was it was an opportunity for them to have a social experience. So they would all have their headsets on watch the and then have a conversation as though they had been to the exhibition, together with each other and then these because these were available, we were able to share these with people, more broadly, after we were shut down.
And. Next slide.
Marjory O’Toole: So, my two minute tourists at the little content historical society are very much like the one take tours. We just talked about extremely low tech just on my cell phone. I have my adult children come and film me if I can recruit them. We do one take no editing. I don’t even trim the beginning and end and you know I just upload them directly on the Facebook. We do try to film about seven or eight at a time because I’m posting one a day and I run out and have to go back and do more.
What I really want to focus on is the reaction. I posted them at the shortly. I started posting them shortly after the State of Rhode Island went into a stay-at-home order and people seem pretty desperate for things to do at home. The reaction has been tremendous, our community has 303,600 year-round residents. These videos are getting at least 500 views and the more popular ones are getting over 2000 views. So not just the community, but people are sharing them beyond the community, especially to our summer residents who may not have arrived yet for the season.
Anecdotally, people are thanking me in the grocery store as I walked by them with my mask for putting the videos on saying they look forward to them with their morning coffee little kids are watching them and talking to their parents about the content. I’ve learned if a person is in the video. It does better than if there’s no person in the video I’ve learned. If I do too much of the same thing in a row, you know too many gravestone videos. The views will drop off. And I’ve also learned that once in a while. If I have a guest presenter those the there’s a spike in views for those videos.
Outdoor exhibits are right at the top of our list this year we were not planning on doing one this year we have done to in the past, very successfully. But it looks like we will not be able to open our special exhibition. This summer, our museum is seasonal we’re only we only open to the public from June to October. We have a huge exhibit opening Fourth of July weekend typically 350 people come to that party to celebrate the opening that is not going to happen this year we’re not sure we’re going to be able to have people inside at all. So in the past we’ve used real estate signs in different parts of the community to put up historic content and we’ve gotten tremendously good feedback on that this year we’re going to do vinyl banners attached to the outside of our historic buildings and people will be able to walk the property with a private small group appointment and see the content for the exhibition that we were going to do, or that we are doing on women’s history.
We’re having the indoor exhibit as well, but it may not open until much later in the season. So, the outdoor exhibit will be a nice sort of better than nothing. In order to keep people engaged with us this season. Next.
Rachel Regelein: Alright, so when we realized we were going to be closed for an indefinite period of time. We wanted to make sure we were still; we can still bring some of our exhibit content to our community. And fortunately, some of our current exhibits. We already had PDF files of all the panels. So, it was really easy to go into WordPress. There’s a embedding extension for embedding PDFs. So, we were able, you can see this one in the middle of the between the lines exhibit. So that’s no I’m on our online exhibit page, you can click through all of the panels to kind of see and read all of the panel content on that particular exhibit was already artifact light. But for some of our other exhibits. So, we’re a small building, we can only have two exhibits at a time.
So, we posted both of our current exhibits as well as one or two of our old exhibits with the PDF panels and then we started to get creative with other types of multimedia and interactive content that we could include for example, the sound spots at the bottom, we have an exhibit about the history of music in our area. And the guest curator had put together a playlist on Spotify, as well as a YouTube playlist of music videos so we’re able to embed a link to both of those. Um, we also had a sound spots. Now that visitors could use community curator people could add, you know, good music memories to the map.
For an upcoming exhibit on women’s suffrage, we have developed a couple of videos just using just at home with Adobe spark the process. So now we have an exhibit preview page for an exhibit that supposed to open in September. So, we have a couple of videos, we have some preliminary information and then we just added a coloring page.
We also had a big incident in our, in our community, namely the bridge that connects our part of Seattle to the rest of Seattle that many thousands of people rely on every day is now closed. For the next two years. And we had done an exhibit a few years ago on that history. So, we were able to put that history content on there and it was immediately picked up by local press and I think what are the most amount of hits. We had ever had hundred website. After that went up, but we’re continuing to find new ways to kind of put-up content and try to add some more interactive elements. And I’ll talk a little bit more about some of the interactive elements that we’ve been sharing later when we talk more about social media.
Lin Nelson-Mayson: Okay, so, um, we all like everyone else had exhibitions in our galleries. That had just opened when we were forced to close. Two of our exhibitions, one of our exhibition was objects on loan that we did not have photographs of so we did some gallery images on the website for that. But two of our exhibitions were ones that we had designed as panel exhibitions for a high traffic location that really is a low security space, and we always do panel exhibitions there these exhibitions. The Elisabeth Shue close a life in modern architecture which accompanied a book that we were going to be doing a book signing with and our, our, our apparel design senior show and we’re both ones that as panel exhibitions our graphic designer was able to then reposition them and redesign them.
As PDFs and post the entire exhibition on the website. She updated the exhibitions in a sequence that reflected how you would encounter them in the gallery, and we were able to actually create an a full online exhibition from the panels that from the PDFs of the panels that we had developed for the exhibition itself. This was actually a the first time that we had done this with these panels, although we had pioneered a traveling exhibition version of a previous panel exhibition in which we sent the zip file Of all the panels to a site and they then printed them out and had their own exhibition based on these graphic design panels.
It, it creates a very nice version of the exhibition without having the physical space of the gallery and it doesn’t lose you don’t lose any of the content of the exhibition because they were all designed to be really these flat panels.
And next one.
Sorry. One of the other things that we did was we went back to a lot of our previous exhibitions and enhanced our previous exhibition page with additional gallery images for each one of the previous exhibitions, to be able to create this this focus on each one of these exhibitions as an individual as individual content. So, we spent a fair amount of time, enhancing this previous exhibition page. So I included images from the gallery and included our press release that included really a lot of information about these past exhibitions that were able to, I think this page actually goes from 2022 to 1976 so there’s really quite a lot of content that we were able to with some things that we couldn’t get to because they were in archives, but other the exhibitions were able to then really enhance the range of exhibitions that we’ve done in the past.
Ann Bennett: Okay, that’s me again. So, we’re gonna be talking about reactions to online collections. And one thing that the laurel Historical Society has his Past Perfect software, which I’m sure a lot of the small museums here have as well. And we have an add on to the software. So, it is an additional cost there’s a hosting costs for it every year. So, it’s not a perfect solution. It’s not for everyone, but if you have it. It is a good tool to use to connect to the public and we found out that we had kind of been using it passively. It was something that we offered for free to the public as a research service. We have about half of our records and images from our collection online. So, we have about 10,000 all together and about half of them have been, you know, kind of digitized in some way to get them up online, but we’re able to kind of make it again a little more lighthearted, a little more kind of history based by posting virtual scavenger hunts and using it as highlights on our social media. So, we are able to have virtual scavenger hunts and asked questions and people would have to go to our Past Perfect online and they would have to search through the records and images to get the correct answer. So that was kind of a little more interesting take on a virtual scavenger hunts by using it through our online system here. And then we also are able to actually post it directly. We can share it directly out from our Pacific online site to our social media through Facebook.
In particular, and so it’s again it’s just a nice way to get more exposure for the server. So, we offer this hosting that we have. So, you can see one of them was kind of a placemat from Allen’s RESTAURANTS AND IT WAS IN LAUREL in the s and so that was just kind of a nice reminder saying, hey, this is a cool thing. Many of you might remember from loyals past. And did you know that there’s all these other records and resources that you can access as well. And again, just encouraging a different level of connection to our collections, while the museum is closed and this is also a great way to post things that we want, or we aren’t able to have every year on display as loud or we can have hundreds and thousands of items still being in connection to the community. It just in a virtual medium.
Yep, I think I’m gonna pass it back over to you, buddy.
Lin Nelson-Mayson: Good. Okay, so I’m GMT AT HOME AND FUN WITH THE COLLECTION WE ACTUALLY HAVE BEEN WORKING ON digitizing our collection, we have a collection of about, designed to objects.
And over the past 10 years or so, we’ve been photographing them with using grants from my MLS and some private donations and we now have about 45,000 images. Now we’ve only got about 20 but 25% of the collection shots. So, there’s a lot of details because most of our objects are three dimensional. There are lots of lots of shots of individual objects. But that means that there’s a lot of content to be able to play around with and create interactive and create some fun things we have our graphic designer was tasked with doing a coloring book. So, we’ve got online now a coloring book of about a dozen to 20 objects from the collection. One of the most dramatic is that Komodo which is we were all extremely impressed and each one of the collection.
Coloring Book pages does have a link to the object online so that you can go online, much as was being said before you can go online and find it online and see what the original colors are.
We hosted a challenge to do object stories. So go to our collection site find an object that is meaningful to you and then write a little story about it, that isn’t scholarly and that was the challenge.
As an academic museum to challenge people to write something that wasn’t scholarly is actually quite a challenge. So, we said, we don’t want something that was like so and So studied with such and such. And then they worked with the so and so firm. We wanted something like wow that’s got two belts. I wonder why.
So that, so the object stories are kind of we’re kind of a little slow to take off. We’re also sent out like many places did a zoom backgrounds. Our zoom backgrounds were based on pieces of fabric that were not did not have a particular designer identified with them so that we didn’t have any sort of Copyright questions without and then we started a kind of elaborate featured object post in which we were a little more scholarly with the featured object and we’re able to say here’s the object. Here’s some here’s some different views of it here are things that are like it. Now, look it up on our rediscovery collections page.
Rachel Regelein: So, we’ve been amazed at the kind of response that we’ve had from our social media. We used to post maybe 123 times a week. If that um since coven we’ve consistently posted three to five times a week on a number of hashtags things that I’ll share with you. I will say, but the most effective things we’ve done is as our page join different Facebook groups and cross posted we have and maybe this just speaks more to our to our community than to what we’ve been doing. I’m not sure, but our engagement rates have been on par or exceeding the large museums in our area. And I think a lot of that comes from the cross posting so one hashtag. We’ve been participating in is hashtag museum alphabet. That’s been a really fun way to show to show off our artifacts and objects that have been digitized.
Um, we do not have Past Perfect online, but we do have catalog it, which I considered the, the new Past Perfect which has been really, really great. Um, so I’ve been able to pull objects from that and to kind of instead of just showing a plane photo and this also helps with them, especially the photos that you might worry about watermark thing I’m using Canvas to kind of just create a little template. So that’s been fun and had really high engagement rates.
Another hashtag we participated in was museum pets. This was initially more of a way to brighten people’s days and also to show them a little bit about what stops doing behind the scenes, while we’re working at home that although our doors are closed for, we’re still busy trying to bring you history. This is my dog.
And so, we’re a museum of have three staff at all of us have one to two pets. And so, we did kind of did a campaign greet me shared all over animals and kind of what they are doing to help us.
Thank you, Gloria, Lily Brighton every day.
Another thing we’ve been sharing on social media, but also on our website and our online exhibits are there are so many tools out there, really easy tools for games and puzzles. Um, this was a jigsaw puzzle. There’s a free upload. We just uploaded like one of our cool pictures from our exhibit and turned it into a jigsaw puzzle.
Some of the other ones we did our printing coloring pages from objects in the collection that can depending on the you know, particularly black and white photos that can take a little bit of tech work we do have Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, which is helpful in that some of them, you might be able to get away with just using paint and Canada.
There’s also free word search generator. So, if you’re you have an article or a blog post from a specific topic history, you want to throw in a fun interactive.
Another one that we did is we did a caption contest, or we shared I should have put this on here, but there was a cute picture of a little boy and a nanny goat. And we kind of cross posted that and then a caption contest, which interestingly enough the top ranked comment was from another museum social media person. So they were clearly clued into to what some of the fun stuff is right now but there’s a ton of great tools out there right now. I know that. Yeah. Some of the zoom backgrounds or something that we’re going to explore because we have some interior photos of some historic buildings in our area that I think people will find fun.
So, but my big things are kamba and cross posting on social media.
And. Next slide please.
Ann Bennett: Okay, I think that’s me. So, I got the next couple of slides, and I’m going to share Rachel’s confession there before the closure. I was posting on social media, maybe once or twice a week. It just was not something that I prioritize it went to the back burner. If there were other things going on. Again, we’re a staff of one and a half. And I’m pretty much the point person when it comes to the social media.
So, this was actually an opportunity for me just to force myself to sit down, get the calendar out and come up with a content schedule. Again, nothing stressful. Nothing. I had to lock myself into. But thinking something like okay well on Tuesdays. I’m going to post my one-day tour and Wednesday. I’ll post something on you know something from like partnering with our main street businesses or something like that and just ways to kind of get fun and creative and we don’t get we do cross posting as well. But a lot of the content is just kind of tweaked and be posted on our Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
And it was really kind of liberating for me to be kind of funny and creative and to highlight our collection our history and our community partners and businesses. A lot of some of our other postings. We were tagging and the restaurants and small businesses that were also on Main Street. So, things like the posts that you see here. I did a every Saturday for a couple weeks in a row. I did a happy pattern day on putting every picture of a cat from our collection that I could find.
And then when I ran out of cat pictures I shared dog pictures, saying, doggone it, I couldn’t find another picture. So that was something again to have fun and creative and just put different things out there and having mixed media having photographs from our collection having the word puzzles.
Like Rachel mentioned as well and just having an opportunity just to truly set that down and now that I have that created. That’s something that I’ll be able to continue because it was so daunting, just to have to force myself to sit down and come up with that schedule.
Something else that we also did is we had these, you know, community participation challenges. And so, one thing we did was to take on the zoom meeting, the one that we’re in now.
Everything else the webinar styles that a lot of us are participating in. And this was the zoom challenge meeting, I will take a close-up picture of one of the items in our current exhibit post it asked people to take guesses on what it was. And then a few days later I would update the coast and tell people what it was, where you could find it in our exhibit and then get a little bit historical context. So, this one in particular with the rotary phone was a blast, especially for Millennials who can figure out exactly what it was or even how to use it.
And then the same thing with the spot the difference challenge. This was very popular I’ll probably since we’re offering small prizes to have people who answer it correctly wants the museum open. But it was very low tech again. It was me taking a picture of a before and after and our exhibits and I would take a picture, rearrange some things removed things add things and then take the next picture and it doesn’t always line up that well but it’s… It was really fun people really kind of got into it and I had a lot of fun to with it because there’s a running gag and every spot the difference picture that we post. There’s a bottle Piero and every picture. And so that’s one of the things that people have to see that’s different from picture one and picture to and then we also have a little more, I guess, serious call to action as well.
So, we’re still encouraging community participation and connection with an organization and two different ways. So, the first program that we started, and this was just a few weeks ago. This wasn’t right from the very beginning, or anything like that.
But we’re calling our virtual volunteers. So, this was a program where you’re asking for help to transcribe our Ledger’s letters manuscript sales receipts. You know, things that are written out longhand and 18th century handwriting. Some of them date as far back as the 1840s, which are some of the very earliest items, a collection through Civil War letters going into some of the records of the world cotton mill. And it is been a tremendous success and what is blowing my mind is that we’ve heard from mostly people who are not members of the museum who name I don’t recognize and wouldn’t really otherwise have a connection with people do have a lot of time on their hands and this is a way, especially if you’re already kind of historically inclined to put your time and talents to get you. So, I send them maybe one or two pages of a PDF of the documents. And they transcribe it they type it up in a Word document and send it back to me and just a great way to make our historical documents more searchable and more accessible. And that’s something we’ll be able to share with the public, wonderful compiled and it’s also a good way to kind of keep our volunteer curators happy and I were actually doing kidney. A collections or during the closure so we are still moving forward with collection work that has to be done. And kind of a similar thing. I know a lot of organizations are asking the community to do this as well.
But we were also asking the public to submit stories and photograph of what the response to the pandemic has been like and Laurel, we’re asking businesses to save their signs, whether it’s a handwritten sign or more formal banner that they posted on their brick-and-mortar businesses. I’m not a good response from a range of people and children, families in different areas of the city as well.
And something that we’re actually working on is to translate this project and partner with the world city Arts Council. To kind of translate this into a postcard project where people might draw on the postcard or share a story and then that actually becomes a more tangible part of our collection and just some of these one digital items.
And again, I also share Rachel’s level of Canvas, all of these things that I am posting the flyers and everything I just can the templates. And then we also are just kind of again during that range of media just to be lighthearted, just to offer fun things that can be done as family, whether you’re working from home or schooling from home and just offer stress relief. So, there are sites. The word puzzles.
Hope will have that link at the end. And I just do one on oral history. So, there’s words you can search for related to our little cotton mill history. The ones that partner with the world. Main Street businesses with the old town restaurants are really popular. So I can tag those on social media. And then the jigsaw puzzles. I had a jigsaw planet that’s a great way just to upload pictures and then have a fun online virtual jigsaw puzzle.
But the best thing and I realized that not everyone will have this ability is that are part time staff person is an artist, so she can draw these amazing things that I can’t even begin to draw. So, she’s done a lot of coloring pages, she’s done toys from the 1950s, all the way through the 1980s and just kind of fun things is that people can cover, they can learn a little bit of history, they can relate to, from their childhood. She even came up with a mini oil Disney a model that you can color cut it out and assemble and that’s been really popular as well. That was one of our most engaging posts.
And then finally, again, we’re trying to just have different variety of different posts and what will appeal to people and one of the strengths of our collection at the historical society is that we have the full line of the local communities paper the world leader, which started publication in 1897 and goes all the way till today. So, we have found and digital copies from every single year of that newspaper. And so, what I’ve been doing is just going through kind of semi randomly just taking pictures of fun advertisements from the past relevant articles or headlines on kind of especially focusing on the reaction and moral to the Spanish flu epidemic and early 1900s and seeing what some of the advertisements in what’s in the media was posting in the local leader at that time. So again, these have also been very successful because people can relate to things like the run-on Vicks vapor rub that we posted the 1918 edition. And correlating that to the rundown toilet paper and things like that from today. So again, it’s just a different range and kind of hit the strengths of our collection. I just bring something out for people to do and I think that’s going to get it for me. Finally…
Lin Nelson-Mayson: So, I think you’re going to hear a fair amount of how pivoting to social media means that not only are we sharing really interesting things from our own collections, but we’re sharing across with our neighbors and with our colleagues our social media colleagues as well. So one of the things that our social media team and what we wound up doing is we’ve got three full time staff people at Goldstein museum and three graduate students and our graduate students became instead of being the collection assistant and so forth became our social media powerhouse.
And we mandated a that we use existing media that we have a very positive voice. And then we developed some of our own campaigns and then we develop some and we participated in some share kits shared campaign. So, you’ll see we did a Minnesota museum alphabet soup was a museum alphabet as well, but just within the state of Minnesota we participated in the museum week postings.
And again, like has been reported. We saw our social media content and impact and really the, the, the way the range of social media interest shared broadly. So, our, our museum week images that cheers to museum colleagues was a let’s send up okay to a friend. So, I virtual bouquet, just to museums that we wanted to say you’re doing good work. Here’s some flowers.
There was a healthy rose, and then we started a museum moment of Zen and fashion and the time of zoom and periodically would do.
Museum moment of Zen when we felt like things were a little stressful. We did a lot of fashion in the time of zoom. And so the image on the top with the hat, the sort of statement that is typical of how we would represent and the language we would use for fashion and the time of zoom and the typical entry was really about sending the message that there was something that we had that was relevant to this particular hashtag or this particular campaign.
And then also an opportunity for us to showcase the collection and showcase, we did a I was going to say showcase exhibitions as well. So, we did I What it Wednesday that was based in the collection. We did a throwback Thursday that was based on those previous exhibitions that I previously talked about and kept the content really within the kinds of things that we had immediate access to and looking for different ways to reinterpret the
Marjory O’Toole: We were very fortunate at that by accident. This year we were working on a project that was very web based and very community crowdsource. And so, we’ve been collecting women’s histories we’ve been posting women of the day or the woman of the day on Facebook with the link to our website and the response has just been tremendous.
What I’m noticing is that living women or women who were alive in current memory are extremely popular with as many as 600 people going to the website to read their story. The was our local female police officer 600 people wanted to read her story. We’re also doing really nicely researched historical women. I think they’re important to do and important to archive but public interest is far less with these women maybe 50 people will go read their stories. So, we will continue woman of the day throughout the spring and summer, even if and when our exhibit gets to open in person. Next slide.
Ann Bennett: Yeah, I know we’re getting to the end of our time here. So, this is just simply to say that we were able to beef up our existing Educational Resources page which really had just simply then information on tours and reservations and things like that. But now we are able to really make it the place for the downloadable versions of a lot of the content that we’re posting on social media. And so, it was a good way to kind of have a have a cross post like Rachel’s been saying that once they’re at our website, they can see all the other great offerings that we have like a online collections, maybe even become a member donate that kind of thing.
And you can see that we have been busy with all the different educational resources that we’ve been hosting. So, we’re trying to hit history, art craft contemporary collecting museum aspects, all that kind of thing. So, the addresses in here. But if you go to borrow historical society.org slash education, you’ll find all of these things that we posted
Lin Nelson-Mayson: And then I can. I think one of the important things that we did with, and I think others have done as well is make sure that that our homepage really was. The landing page that communicated the most important message. So, we have a slider on our, on our web page that has current exhibitions and new programs and so forth. And we stopped the slider at least initially, so that we have this message about the exhibition, excuse me about the museum being closed and if it was changed from time to time just to make sure that we were giving out the most accurate information that if somebody went to our website to look for. You know what’s going on at the Goldstein Museum. That we were communicating clearly what was going on at the University of Minnesota and that our galleries for close with this became kind of our town crier. We use this to make sure that people knew when things were changing and what things were will use it again. When the campus starts opening up which is has not been announced when that’s going to be so we’ll, we’ll make sure that that is the function of that of that page as well.
It also became as, as was said earlier, it also became the site where you could sort of Atlanta clicks. You can click to get into all sorts of other pages and do activities and tours and join and become a member donate, donate, donate all the kinds of things that that we wanted people to be able to see that were actions that they were activities that you could do.
So, this is kind of an above the fold component. We even put our whole spring magazine that is generally just out for Members on the on the website so that it was a it was an our, our gift to everyone was our member magazine in addition to the things that were more activity based and as you can see the online exhibitions and the virtual tours.
Marjory O’Toole: Again, this year’s project women’s history happened to have a really strong web component in that worked in our favor beautifully this year. I actually think more people helped us and more people contributed to the project stories of women in their lives. Because they were stuck at home that if it had been a normal spring. So as of right now, we have over 200 women’s stories posted and that far exceeded our expectations.
I think one of the smartest decisions we made early on in the project was simply to use our own existing website, rather than try and learn something new or purchase something new to host this content. So, this is just our normal WordPress website.
It is simple enough that I and the to the our volunteer graphic designer and my brand new museum educator that I’ve been waiting 15 years for are all capable of making new pages, adding content correcting things if we noticed mistakes and it’s just working out beautifully for us.
Our website visits are 10 times what they’ve been in the past, mostly because we’re driving people to the website via Facebook and Facebook is perfect for my audience Twitter stinks. For us, we get no response on Twitter, Facebook is hundreds and sometimes thousands of responses or views. And we are starting Instagram because we do want to connect with a younger group. And that’s starting to work for us.
Ann Bennett: Okay. Um, yeah. So we’re wrapping up and this was something that I kind of threw in up at the end of my part of the presentation just says I don’t know, just trying to get a handle on where we started from, and where we’re going and where we’re going to end up so it was the idea that during this time of crisis, and that crisis, a couple months ago was the coven pandemic. And that’s still in the forefront of our minds, but
As of today, there’s a lot more crises going on in our country that we also have to address and so during the time of crisis. It’s one of our most important goals to be a steady and we assure and presence in our community.
And so, our organization, we wanted to have the public use it as a resource to fulfill their needs for education. You know when they were trying to teach their kids from home. But also, a coping mechanism, a way to relieve stress and this way to have fun family activities and kind of as a confession, you know, our initial reaction. I thought I think was kind of just a very big knee jerk reaction. And I don’t think I’m alone. And a lot of small museums, having that reaction. So, we brainstorm. What we could do very quickly and get things out to the public, very quickly, just to show that we’re still here.
And we still have this virtual presence, but as that kind of initial panic homeowners seem to subside. We soon developed a way to make a more dedicated and focused attempt to provide the community with virtual resources and so every almost everything that we have developed is really evergreen, and we’ll be able to use it for different tours and exhibits and in the future.
And the same thing with the virtual components that we have developed will be able to continue those, like I said, the one take tours. We had great feedback from the docents and even if it’s more of a docent focus thing, I will probably continue those in the future as well.
So certainly, this this virtual aspect is here to stay in the forefront and but we can’t forget that we offer a physical experience, you know that the sense of place or collections on museums or historic sites or house newsman’s is really what connects us and it grounds, our stories and our interpretation. So, we are very much having a virtual response to a, you know, physical experience.
And I think that’s what a lot of us are realizing right now that initially it was about pivoting that hard about face what we normally offer and could do on site. In a virtual environment, but I like to think of it now is not so much of a pivot anymore, but a pendulum and we necessarily have to swing very hard to the virtual but since things have so changed so much we can go all the way back to the physical either.
And I should have put a slide of the clock that we have in the lobby, ECM because that I see that every day. And that was kind of inspiration for this metaphor, but like a fully functioning and well-balanced clock. That pendulum that balance that swinging is between the virtual and the physical and that perfect balance is going to be in the middle. So those are kind of some of the last takeaway ideas that I wanted to offer you and just encourage you to keep being creative and to keep moving forward and to be that steady reassuring presence in our community, no matter what the crisis is to use our historical perspective to move forward. And then I’ll see these are the resources.
Janice Klein: Yep. Yeah. Um, this is your our resource page. We really just included the ones that we had referenced ourselves. We’ve been trying to answer questions as we’ve gone along about how to get these different resources and some questions about other ones as well and we will be providing the slide deck 2am so it will be a handout as part of the recording. And we think the only question that is left that we might want to look at is just how big is your staff.
Lynn has answered that online. I think she’s got the largest staff of was three staff members and for part time
Lin Nelson-Mayson: Well, there’s me to more people and for part time people, of which two of them are about 10 to 15 hours and to our 20 hours.
And that’s in three of those for our graduate students that we say goodbye to after a year and then we have to retrain the next group of graduate students. The following year, okay.
Janice Klein: Marjorie, what’s your staff, other than your, your family.
Marjory O’Toole: I am full time 40 hours a week, last month I was able to hire a 19 hour a week museum educator because of a large gift from a very generous family in the community and we have a two day a week bookkeeper and that’s it. We rely on a number of our board members to act as staff.
Rachel Regelein: Yeah, we have three full time staff members and a part time bookkeeper at any given time. We usually have between one and two interns as well.
Janice Klein: And finally, and what’s your staff.
Ann Bennett: I am full time 40 hours a week and we have one part time 20 hours a week person like Marjorie said a lot of our volunteers kind of fill staff capacity and we’re very fortunate. We do have a dedicated group that really works on collections and exhibits. We do pay an outside bookkeeper but that’s about it.
Janice Klein: Okay. I think if there are any questions that any of our panelists have seen that they want to address online. We’ve got a minute. Otherwise, I think I would like to thank you very much for being here for this presentation and for all your comments. And hope you will stay safe.
Lin Nelson-Mayson: I was just gonna say check us all out online all of the stuff that you saw today is all online and we’d love to answer your questions and share and share your good ideas with us to please.
Ann Bennett: I just want to thank you. I know the comments come up a couple of times, but they’re still big issues with accessibility with people being able to access digital resources. And being able to pay for different resources. So that’s still part of a bigger question, but a lot of organizations like myself are struggling with and it just a matter of time to partner with other organizations.
We’re fortunate, though, we get a lot of exposure from the city of laurel and their TV station their local news network. So that’s kind of a different medium that other people might have access to. If you don’t have the internet connections and things like that.
Janice Klein: And I think we’re out
AAM Session Monitor: Thank you for joining us. Today, this is. Thank you, Jeff. I the Gulf spill will see you all online again tomorrow. Thank you.
Lin Nelson-Mayson: Hey, thank you.
Marjory O’Toole: Well, it’s nice working with you.