This article was written by Aurora Raimondi Cominesi and appeared originally on Sveglio Museu‘s website. Sveglio Museu (Wake up Museums!) is a project that looks to learn from non-Italian museums who are actively using social media in order to expand and deepen the presence of Italian museums online.
Over the past few months we had the chance to meet many extremely interesting people, not all of them Italian, who enthusiastically joined in our project – it goes without saying, most of these lucky connections were formed on… Twitter. It’s on this platform that we met Àlex Hinojo (@Kippelboy), a “cultural sector engager” from Barcelona, as his bio defines him. And it’s from those first tweet that this interview took shape, one in which we won’t be talking about one museum but all museums of Catalonia, that Àlex has gathered together under the banner of the @CatalanMuseums account on Twitter. We will discover a diverse actuality made of important museums such as the Picasso Museum in Barcelona and many small realities like the local library of Roquetes – all of them dealing, in many different ways, with our “digital revolution”. If it does not remind you of something familiar, it should.
This particular interview wants to open a window (you choose how wide) on a cultural scenario not so different from ours, where the same challenges are faced and – frequently – the same incertitude. A world that is #openGLAM, the “GLAM” standing for Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums, the “open” for “accessible on a wider scale” thanks to a close collaboration with Wikipedia. Or better so, with Wikimedia and Wikipedians. A new species of the Homo Sapiens Sapiens? Not sure it’s not.
1. Àlex, you have been working for 10 years now as a digital project manager and a museum consultant (as shown in your rich bio). As similar professional figures are rare in Italy, it would be interesting to learn how you started.
À. I started doing online project management outside of the cultural sector, doing project management and consultancy for financial brands and governments, but somehow my passion and my daily job got all mixed up at a time.
The Catalan Museums and the Web
2. In the same vein – trying to understand how things work outside of Italy – over the past 10 years, how did you witness the relationship between web & museums develop and change in Catalonia? That is, how are museums and cultural institutions approaching digital and social media?
À. Catalonia has its own Cultural Ministry, and it has been some years now that most of the public museums adopted the same kind of CMS (Content Management System). This was good on the side of standardization but – as it always happens – it also had a “side B”: most of the Catalan museums are facing the same kind of basic problem. To be specific, it is hard for them to get their collections online.
In Catalonia we have two types of museums: a small group of significant ones, with staff ranging between 20 and 200 people (MNAC, MACBA, Museu Picasso…), and a much larger number of museums which are facing this huge change to digital with a total staff average from 3 to 5 people. In these kind of small museums, the same limited group of people is in charge of directing, curating, creating educational programs… and now, in addition to this, of taking care of digital and social media communication. To be sincere… some of them are a little bit overwhelmed with all this.
However, once they break the mindset, they soon realize social media is a shortcut to their audiences, and is a cheap way to build a committed community. You could easily tell, by their interactions, if they are still doing a one-way communication or if they are carrying on a real conversation with their audience.
One other thing is that Catalan Museums must deal with 3 languages in their communications (Catalan, Spanish and English) and social networks like Facebook or Twitter are hard to deal with when going multilingual.
3. At this point we usually ask how the different social platforms are used by different museums to engage their audience. It would be hard to ask you how all Catalan Museums are taking advantage of each new media– nonetheless, it would be interesting to know, e.g., which platforms are the most used, and how.