@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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    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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    December 28th, 2012mardixonCulture, International

    These are thoughts from different conversations I have had on social media.


    80514963-4538-4228-A154ECA6F7350EAEOutreach to the community. 
    Bring the community into the museum instead of waiting for them to come to you.  Many community groups  such as ones that work with elders, community volunteers, disabled, etc, are looking for different projects but might not feel cultural venues fit into their program or even know they are an option. Think beyond education and interpretation.

    Do NOT forget the Teens/Young People. 
    As many people may or may not know, we are creating Teens in Museums with founding members Milwaukee Art Museum, Museum Teen Summit, Smithsonian Ed Lab & Museum of London Youth Panel to help provide a portal for international venues to share both best practice and examples of projects that might not have worked but might work for someone else.  Trying and Sharing is so important.

    Stop running museums as a business. 
    Ok, they need to be run as a business but do we the visitors need to know that?  We don’t want to constantly be reminded that money is a forefront thought. Transparency is brilliant, to a point. A good example of how to be transparent:  Natural History Museum in London periodically shares visitor numbers via Twitter, but doesn’t follow up with running cost.

    think-outside-the-boxThink outside the box
    or as Adrian Russell suggested, CRUSH the box completely.  In October I had the honor of seeing how opening the doors and trusting people could make a huge difference when I attended MuseoMix.  Giving up a bit of control and allowing outsiders access to collections WILL provide a huge return.  Museums need to think differently in order for meaningful changes to happen.


    Museums and Art Galleries do not need to be overwhelming.
    Think of them as a shopping mall – you only take away what you need but it’s nice to know where other items are should you need them.  I’ve always had the philosophy that exposure was the key.  Learn one thing from every visit – not everything, just one thing.  I don’t even care if it is where the bathrooms are located or if the cafe sells cake.

    Don’t feel you have to look at the art/artefacts 
    Just getting use to the space and seeing it’s not as intimidating as you might assume is time well spent.


    How long should you look at a picture or artefact? 
    It doesn’t matter!  If you don’t like it or it doesn’t grab your attention, move along.  No one will snicker or roll their eyes or *tsk *  behind your back.

    Use Front of House for questions
    Seriously, those people that stand/sit in the corner are there to answer questions – not just to tell you photos aren’t allowed.  And they LOVE being asked questions.

    Social Media

    Both venues and visitors need to use it more for conversation and less for marketing.

    social mediaVisitors: 
    Social media is not to be used as a threat when one little thing doesn’t go your way.  You can not threaten to use social media just because one employee didn’t respond quick enough, or the que was too long in the loo.

    STOP using social media to SELL.  Be social!  Tell us why we should visit but interact with us when we’re there.  Be the eyes and ears for what we don’t see – go behind the scenes.  Ask us what we’d like to see. Ask us if we like cake, just talk TO us instead of AT us.

    I’m sure there are other items not addressed here but these have been topics I’ve noticed in the last few weeks.  What would you add? What do you dis/agree with?


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    October 8th, 2012mardixonCulture, International

    **Click here for Survey**

    Last August 2011, I ran a simple survey called Does Social media work for Cultural Sector. At the time, I had no idea that Cultural 24 was working on their large scale research Let’s Get Real. Nor did I know what difference it was going to make (if any).

    The results were intriguing and I mentioned I might run it again in a year.  Fast forward a year and a kind reminder by Ann that it was again time for the survey.

    RT @ann_les: @MarDixon, hi! Have you carried out the same survey (http://www.mardixon.com/wordpress/2011/08/does-social-media-work-for-cultural-sector-survey/) this year?

    Although I recognize that much has changed in the past year, I decided to leave all the questions the same as 2011.  I *really* want to ask more prying questions but realize that would skew results if we are to honestly compare the data from 2011 to 2012.

    Like last year, it shouldn’t take much time to answer the questions and I’ll share all the results. There are 8 questions from 2011 with the option to add a comment in this years survey.

    Please share this survey with everyone.

    Does Social Media Work for the Cultural Sector 2012

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    March 16th, 2012mardixonCulture

    With years of collective experience in social media engagement, many museums are stopping to ask themselves: what have we really learned about the audiences we are connecting with? Have we formed more meaningful relationships with our community and in the process, are we better serving the missions of our institutions?

    #Musesocial is a tag on Twitter which I was first introduced to by Erin Blasco, from the Smithsonian National Postal Museum. A few weeks ago, I noticed she was asking provocative and probing questions such as ‘after following a museum on social media, have you visited its website more or less?’ or ‘what do you wish museums were doing more of with social media?’ These questions were sparking conversations, some receiving unexpecting replies (for me, I’m not going to speak for Erin).  But it was very interesting and eye opening.

    Read the rest of this entry »

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    February 7th, 2012mardixonInternational

    One of the biggest challenges I face as a consultant is hearing people say ‘I haven’t had time to ‘play’ on social media’. This statement is often being said by those making decisions on their cultural venues future.

    And the question really should be ‘Can you afford not too?’

    Read the rest of this entry »

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