Monthly Archives: May 2013

How useful is social media for raising awareness about the Holocaust and genocide #WLdebate


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Guest Blog from Katy at Wiener Library

wldebateTo mark Holocaust Memorial Day 2013, the Wiener Library’s Young Volunteers hosted a special debate about social media. Ten young people aged 16-25 came together to discuss the question ‘How useful is social media for raising awareness about the Holocaust and genocide?’. Chaired by the Library’s Community and Outreach Officer, the following questions formed the outline of the debate:

1)    If it’s ‘social’ media, is it suitable for raising awareness of a sensitive topic such as the Holocaust?

2)    Are there differences between the ways social media can be used to raise awareness about the past as opposed to the present?

3)    Memorialisation, learning and taking action? Can social media do anything more than awareness raising?

4)    Where should social media be placed amongst traditional methods of raising awareness of the Holocaust (eg school teaching, museums, films, literature)

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Credit: Ben Turner and The Wiener Library

5)    Are certain types of social media better than others for raising awareness of the Holocaust and genocide?

6)    If we can’t control what gets written on Twitter, is it actually useful at all?

7)    Where do you see the role of social media in the future in terms of raising awareness of the Holocaust?

Some of the key points from the debate were published on the Wiener Library twitter account so the wider public were able to engage with the debate. The responses can still be seen (and replied to!) by searching the hashtag #WLdebate.

Credit: Ben Turner and The Wiener Library

Credit: Ben Turner and The Wiener Library

Lots of interesting points were made but the overall consensus was that social media was a useful ‘way in’ for people in terms of raising awareness. They argued that it had the potential to capture people’s attention and inspire them to learn more as well as take action. One attendee was less positive and worried that social media was a ‘shallow form of engagement’, but that didn’t mean it was not useful, just that it was useful for catching attention rather than deep and meaningful learning. Someone following the discussion on Twitter argued that writing a survivor story in 140 characters (regarding the Holocaust Education Trust’s ‘ask a survivor’ Twitter chat for Holocaust Memorial Day) would lose the historical context, but the group argued that the fact people were asking survivors questions at all via twitter showed some level of positive engagement.

After the debate finished, it was suggested by the attendees that a new online presence was created for them to carry on their discussions. The Library consequently created a debate group on Facebook for those young people and others to discuss ideas and put forward potential future debate topics. We will be holding another debate in the autumn so keep following the #WLdebate!


Using Online Courses to Connect Teens to Museums @NCMATeens


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ncmateensContinuing with our ‘sharing of social media and other online activities’ to engage Teens and Young People, Michelle H. Harrell,, Coordinator of Teen and College Programs at North Carolina Museum of Art shares their online courses available in North Carolina.

If you’re reading this blog, you may already know the challenge museums face reaching local teens. When given the challenge of reaching teens across a state spanning 560 miles (900 km), the issues are challenging. Our museum has discovered how online courses can offer a tool to connect teens to their state art museum in rich and meaningful ways.

As a statemuseum, the North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA has initiated a variety of concept-driven programs for teachers and schools across the state. Through a grant-funded collaboration with the North Carolina Virtual Public School (NCVPS), we have created a series of online high school credit courses at no cost to students enrolled in a public school in NC. Rather than offering traditional art history courses, we offer a variety of popular subjects, such as game design, videography, fashion, advertising, and photography. Visit to learn more about each course.

These online courses combine object-based approaches in the galleries with project-based applications. Works of art are used as catalysts for learning. Each course meets the following goals. Students will…

  • Build learning and innovation skills while increasing media and technology skills.
  • Engage with the art collections of the NCMA regardless of their geographic location across NC.
  • Participate in educational programming at the NCMA, both during and after enrollment in the courses.


Videos of artists and curators combined with exciting projects and discussion forums create authentic experiences for students to construct meaningful connections to the work. Each week, students learn new concepts, connect these concepts to a work of art, and then create original work that synthesizes what they have learned. For instance, in our “Art of Photography” course, students master technical agility of photographic processes while developing aesthetic perception and creativity. In the first module of the course, students learn about artist intent while understanding how a camera’s lens operates. Students watch this video featuring Chris Drury’s Cloud Chamber for the Trees and Sky to hear his artistic approach and watch a timelapse of how the small aperture projects the outside of the park to the walls of the sculpture.

Enrollment in these courses has doubled each year. The pilot course offered in Fall 2010 had only 60 students, but the current semester has over 300 students enrolled. By the end of next school year, we expect the enrollment to exceed 500 students each semester. In only three years of offering these online courses, over half of NC’s school systems have had at least one student enrolled in our program.

ElizabethMOn-site educational programming draws upon the themes of these courses. From symposia, residencies, field trips, and events, students have multiple entry points to engage with our museum. We just celebrated the debut of the Art of Photography course with ArtScene, which is our teen event  held each spring at the NCMA. Students enjoyed photography activities, a polaroid photo booth, live entertainment, and a student exhibition from the course.

As our program grows, we are interested in collaborating with other museums to contribute to the field of online learning. How has your museum incorporated online learning to connect to teens? What other museums can be used as examples to engage teens through distance learning? Join the conversation by adding comments below or contacting me directly (

NCMA Social Media

Museums, Teens and Social Media: @TeenArtGallery


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tagRecently, I’ve been asking for Teen groups to share how social media fits into their program.  If you would like to share your views, please let us know.

This is a response By Charlotte Bravin Lee, age 17 Director and Curator of Teen Art Gallery.

I don’t particularly embrace technology. Most of my friends are better with computers than I am. I have always preferred a pencil and pad or a paintbrush and canvas.  I was the last to give up my flip phone in favor of a smart phone. But a year ago, when I became the director of Teen Art Gallery, I realized I wanted to increase awareness about our group. At the time we had about 350 “likers”.  My goal was to double this number within a year – and we have succeeded. I found that the more posts we created with images attached really helped. We used pictures from our various openings. We posted young teen art work. Every time we share a post from another museum group, we earn new “fans” and increase our profile. Continue reading →