Museums and the Web

An annual conference exploring the social, cultural, design, technological, economic, and organizational issues of culture, science and heritage on-line.

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Small Towns and Big Cities: How Museums Foster Community Online


TitleSmall Towns and Big Cities: How Museums Foster Community Online
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsMacArthur, M., & Allen-Greil D.
Secondary TitleMuseums and the Web
Conference Start DateApril 13-17, 201
PublisherArchives & Museum Informatics
Place PublishedDenver, Colorado, USA
EditorTrant, J., & Bearman D.
Keywordsaudience, community, Gemeinschaft, Gesellschaft, social media, strategy, Web 2.0
Abstract

The early years of the Internet offered museums new possibilities for reaching broader audiences, and yet the anonymous character of most on-line interaction posed significant challenges for those who sought to foster a sense of community in the digital realm. In recent years, social media and other new tools have enabled museums to more successfully cultivate on-line relationships and even blur the lines between their physical and virtual communities. Borrowing terminology from German sociologist Ferdinand T╦ćnnies, this paper uses the archetypal qualities inherent in traditional village life (Gemeinschaft) vs. life in big cities (Gesellschaft) as a framework for understanding museum approaches to on-line community. While the formally constrained (gesellschaft) expert-novice relationship that has so long been the paradigm for museums is still valued, we find compelling reasons to also explore the potential of gemeinschaft "whole person" interactions to change the nature of community relationships with museums. Using this framework, we review examples from the National Museum of American History and other museums using technology to foster community.

URLhttp://www.archimuse.com/mw2010/papers/allen-greil/allen-greil.html