@MarDixon Passionate about culture internationally. Run remixing events, workshops, create solutions, and an international speaker. Over sharer and Mom who loses arguments to a teen. Projects created: @CultureThemes @lovetheatreday @AskaCurator @MuseumSelfieDay @TeensInMuseums @52museums
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    April 11th, 2016mardixonCulture, International, Tech

    Credit: ‎@creoconceptsgh

    This is a conversation that started when someone mentioned the routine questions received on social media when the answers are obviously on the website.  This took me by surprise as my first reaction is always to tweet/ask on social media as often I’m on my phone and don’t want to waste data clicking away on websites (especially bespoke ones where Contact Me isn’t where you find the address but a lovely form).

    What I did find funny was the fact that many of the social media people were annoyed by the same questions: directions, open times, cost but I wonder how many took the time to do something to streamline the information.  Maybe a pinned tweet for half term, link directing them to Most Asked Questions on their bio instead of a link to their next exhibition, etc.

    I started thinking more about it and took to twitter for my first ever poll and as you can see from the results, I’m in the minority!

    At least that is the impression the poll gives.  However, many (and I mean many) follow up conversations give light to the reason the poll might have been skewed.  Here’s a selection of responses:

    What is your opinion on this? 

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    December 20th, 2015mardixonCulture, International

    UPDATE: @52Museums is fully booked for 2016 but there is a waiting list and planning 2017 already.   Also, if you’re a museum on Instagram, please add yourself to the Museums on Instagram List.


    A few weeks ago I was on Instagram and noticed how my friend Chris Webb’s project 52Quilters was still going strong and growing. The object is simple: once a week someone takes over the Instagram, Twitter and Blog account and shares their experience on being a quilter.

    I went to sleep and woke up at 5am with one of those moments – this could work for museums. By 9am @52Museums was happening. Well I say happening, the accounts were created and a Google Form for sign up was made. There has been a few mistakes made along the way (like I should have created a form that only allowed one week to be chosen or any week as it turned into a logistic nightmare) but thankfully, museums are brilliant at adapting to changes (no seriously!!).

    The final schedule still isn’t final as over 80 museums have signed up. Museums are collaborating with other museums either via similar collections, cities or a fun challenge.

    This project is all about museum(s) sharing anything they want for the week on Instagram. Every museum that signed up is going to help engage with the account for the year – so local museums will get the same support as the nationals.

    Feel free to get involved, either with questions, likes, favorites or discussions. Read the rest of this entry »

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    November 22nd, 2015mardixonCulture, International, Tech

    MuseumCampPoster6Today I held MuseumCamp as part of the Vienna Art Week. While it was a small, intimate group we managed to cover many topics and eat A LOT of cupcakes! First and foremost I have to thank eSel (in particular eSeLat) for the invite to be Artists in Residence and showcase MuseumCamp during Vienna Art Week.


    Social Media: In Vienna – the uptake to social media is slow. While the public may or may not be using it, the museums seem to be using it for PR/marketing many and to chat to other museums. Not sure where the public comes in but the good news is they seem to recognize it and want to change! For example, as stated by Jennie Carvill ‘engagement in twitter initiatives like #Askacurator or the like is still also largely lacking.’ Is that due to the museums or the public? I’m still not sure.

    Hashtags: Another topic was the use of signage in museums to encourage sharing. While at Albertina Museum and Leopold Museum I saw they are great with the signage, but not everyone is sharing. In some museum the reasons are similar – no wifi due to signal issues in the thick (or metal!) walls. But we discussed ways to encourage more participation. I shared Andrew Lewis’ newest case study as an example. And talked about Pompidou #KoonSelfie signage (and the use of a book competition to encourage sharing).

    QR Codes: When the topic of new technology came up, it was mentioned that some museums tried 3 years ago with QR codes but many of the public had no idea what they were or how to use. However, now that the advertisers are using them more on posters/signs in the streets, it might be worthwhile to try again on a small exhibition.

    Periscope: We discussed how many museums / galleries allow for pictures that maybe they can start to implement Periscope into their sharing. As someone who uses Periscope, I was glad to learn that perhaps there is a way to capture the comments and hearts also which is a great benefit!

    IMG_2932Building Communities: One of the difficulties I’ve personally seen in Vienna is the struggle to gain trust with communities. As Vienna is small, many people attend events as a group. It’s hard for an individual to ‘break that cycle’. This spills over to museum/art gallery people. They don’t tend to attend events or conferences to network. I’ve visited museums (and shared along the way) and attended many Vienna Art Week events and tried to introduce myself to new people and while they were always polite the conversation never led anywhere. To be honest, it was a bit frustrating as I probably attended more events that weren’t related to my work but the social integration was closed.

    I talked about DrinksThing and as a way to break the communication barriers. As Will Stanley and I know, it isn’t always a first time success but over time, if they are consistent I’m sure it’ll grow. While there were a few examples mentioned of Tweetups for museum people – they seem to give up a bit too earlier. DrinksThings did not take off over night and some nights it was only 3 people who showed. But we were consistent in a monthly event and soon gained the trust of others. However, it’s vital that people in Vienna find the right platform for communications (DrinksThing is twitter and Attending.io based but perhaps Facebook group is more practical here). I noticed that newsletter were stronger in their way to communicate.

    We also discussed stARTcamp Wien which happens in Vienna on December 10. It’s a barcamp like MuseumCamp. They to have the issues of people to attend and know why/how it’s important. I’m hoping to be able to support them more in furture.

    Read the rest of this entry »

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    April 24th, 2015mardixonCulture, International, Tech

    IMG_1606Just throwing a quick post on a few topics before I do #MuseumNext takeway piece.

    Graveyard of Directors:  We are haemorrhaging museum and art directors left, right and center and NO ONE seems to be asking ‘Why?’.  It’s not just one or two who have left – to be honest, I’ve lost track of the number which is a red flag in itself.  However, it’s also the demographic of these directors who are leaving. This is an international issue.

    For me, it’s almost like rats jump ship.  It’s a clear sign of something major is about to happen but they never say what.

    And it’s not just that they are leaving to retire, most are leaving for other sectors (academia or placement in other cultural venues but not necessarily a museum).


    Graveyard of Social/Digital Media Platforms: The other event / trend I’ve noticed is the retirement of many social media/digital platforms in favor of others.  I recently spoke at the Indianapolis Museum of Art Innovative Museum Leaders Speaker Series and mentioned that the sector has been burnt with putting all their eggs in one social/digital basket before (web site only, then shifted to one or two social media platform).  Now we’ve learned to not look at what is best for us but what is best for the people who will be using it.

    Each institution/venue/museum needs to ensure they evaluate their platforms and ensure that they are still right for what their visitors want.  AND BE HONEST.  

    Graveyard of Mission Statements: Ok, that’s a bit strong but really – the sector really needs to re-evalute their mission statements as so many are outdated and are keeping them from progress.  If they aren’t careful, they are going to outdate themselves so much they won’t be able to recover.

    Our society needs to be entertained.  We can look at amusement parks, Netflix, or even airports (as Shelly Bernstein suggests) but whatever is being looked at needs to be achievable and that requires an appropriate Mission statement that everyone in the museum/venue can work with.

    What are your thoughts?

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    September 19th, 2014mardixonCulture, International

    I started planning this event, well last year, but really in the past 3 months. I still worry no one will take part at first or get bored. Than closer to the event, I get all giddy with excitement like it’s Christmas!

    This year is no different.

    But here I am, technically the eve before and we have 41 countries and 634 museums signed up. I’ve been interviewed in 6 different languages (Wired.com article).  The sign up sheet continues to grow… [by end of play, 721 museums in 43 countries!]

    I’m often asked why I do it as I don’t get paid.  The stats from LaMagnetica are why:

    47,546 Tweets
    13,000 DIFFERENT users

    That is a HUGE community we have built together. How could I not do it? I’m seriously blown away by those numbers. These numbers represent the thirst from the #AskACurator Community for access to behind the scenes at museums/galleries.  The thirst for learning. The passion for our cultural sector. And most importantly, the yearning to share.

    Please Note: LaMagnetica will be sharing the report and I”ll update this page when it’s done.

    UPDATE:  I’ve a Feedback form and would love to hear your opinion Read the rest of this entry »

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    June 16th, 2014mardixonCulture, International, Tech

    IMG_6244I have been back from Russia now just over a week. It was an experience that allowed me a real insight into the Russian museum community (albeit primarily on the western  side).   From running workshops, speaking at a conference,  being a guest to many museums, and speaking with numerous people (museum, digital, tech and more) I came away with a solid knowledge of their current cultural position (and quite frankly, a thirst to go back!).

    Firstly a little background on this trip.  I first encountered Anna Mikhaylova via social media (of course) then in person at ‘Museums on the Web’ in Portland, Oregon.  I can’t remember when or how the idea of me going to Russia happened, but soon we (more like Anna) had formulated a detailed plan for 20 days in St Petersburg, Vyborg, Peterhof and Moscow.

    My itinerary was hectic and diverse but allowed me to truly see the museum community in a holistic (and hands on) view. Read the rest of this entry »

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    March 10th, 2014mardixonCulture, International

    museumweekTwitter UK, Italy, Spain and France are coming together this month for #MuseumWeek – a week long event to help encourage museums and potential visitors to use Twitter to share.

    SEE PDF PDF Twitter #MuseumWeek PDF 

    Now those that know me know this is something I’m a huge advocate of.  Anything that stops the stereotyping that makes museums stuffy and visitors feel they aren’t worthy is a good thing!

    Twitter has asked museums to sign up and  tweet each day using the different hashtag/theme.  Some of these are incredibly familiar (#AskaCurator #MuseumSelfie).  I was asked if I minded, which is a good question.  As a huge supporter of Museums and Twitter, how could I mind?  I was a bit worried as the topics chosen are something CultureThemes does on a yearly basis but when I stopped and really thought about it – does it really matter?  AskACurator will still happen on September 17th and MuseumSelfie will happen again in January 2015.  What is important is to hopefully reach more museums that might not be using Twitter or know how to jump into social media to feel comfortable throughout the week taking part. Also to bring more potential visitors/advocates into the mix.  I am really proud that Twitter has seen the potential with the museum sector – Go us! 

    What and When:
    March 24 Day 1 – A day in the life (#DayInTheLife)
    March 25 Day 2 – Test your knowledge (#MuseumMastermind)
    March 26 Day 3 – Your story (#MuseumMemories)
    March 27 Day 4 – Buildings behind the art (#BehindTheArt)
    March 28 Day 5 – Ask the expert (#AskTheCurator)
    March 29 Day 6 – Museum selfies (#MuseumSelfies)
    March 30 Day 7 – Constraint drives creativity (#GetCreative)

    List of Museums in each country
    Want to take part and from the UK?  Twitter UK Form
    Want to take part and from Spain? Twitter Spain Form
    Want to take part and from Italy? Twitter Italy Form
    Want to take part but not part of the four countries?  I created a form here

    Read the rest of this entry »

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    January 26th, 2014mardixonCulture, International

    Wow – what an amazing day #MuseumSelfie was! 

    ctI’ve been running @culturethemes now for almost 3 years (we’re 3 in March).  [A little background on CultureThemes: it was started when there were massive cuts to funding which caused a lot of negativity on social media.  This was not helping the sector at all.]  The first CultureTheme was #WhyILoveMuseums and went world trending.

    Why?  Because people love museums!  What they don’t like is listening to moaning about funds/money.  Who does? Read the rest of this entry »

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    June 2nd, 2013mardixonCulture

    SmartphonePedastoolA while ago, I was commissioned to write an opinion piece discussing the use of mobile technology and social media in the museum environment and how, if implemented correctly can develop audiences of all ages by Ian Clappison.  It was an extremely  time senstive piece and I didn’t fully commit to getting it done which was a good thing, as 3 months later – ta da! 

    Elephant in the Room – is it rude to use a smartphone when at an art gallery or museum?

    My answer: No.

    Smartphones are the best invention ever.  Ok, maybe a bit of a strong statement but it has transformed the way so many of us live and work.  They have also changed the way we interact with the museum environment.

    And that’s a good thing!

    Read the rest of this entry »

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    January 20th, 2013mardixonCulture, International

    snowGlobeI’m often asked why / how sectors (cultural and business) should use social media and this snowy weather has been a great example. Since the snow started in the UK this week, I’ve witness some prime customer service that  proved another value for social media (for those still unsure).  Tweets and Facebook updates went beyond the collection and that was absolutely brilliant.  It showed a pulse behind the walls – it showed the humanist side that is oh so important with *social* media.

    The following are just a few examples that I’ve seen.

    Delayed opening and Closure information.  Like many schools, museums were playing that ‘Do we stay open or do we close’ game that they recognized was inconvenient for those wanting to visit.  Being completely honest and transparent with the updates lessen the blow for those that were planning on visiting but couldn’t. Why?  Because as annoying as it was, the updates explained the reason behind the decision.

    Museum / Gallery had to close?  Not a problem as many shared activities on the website to keep kids / family occupied. Apps and games were big suggestions but seen a few recommendations of books and other websites.

    Transportation information (including bus routes) were being shared so even if the venue was staying open, you knew what public transportation was running (or not running as the case may be).

    Sharing of local information – not just museum related.  Lots of local independent businesses were trying to stay open and I caught a few tweets that mentioned the venue was closing but to get a nice slice of cake at the local bakery, etc.

    Sharing Snowman pictures – ok, so yes yes everyone was sharing snowman pictures.  But a few clever people did non-traditional snowmen that were brilliant.  It didn’t have anything to do with the museum or art gallery but it fell under the ‘creative’ heading and it was refreshing to see the venues taking part in the fun of the moment.

    Recommendations of checking on neighbours and homeless.  This wasn’t just museums doing this but it was nice to see museums and cultural venues reminding their followers.

    As it’s just the start of the ‘winter season’ I’m sure we’ll have many more snow/ice days to contend with.

    If you were one of the museums who tweeted one of the above – THANK YOU!  If you weren’t, maybe next time? 


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