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Museums and the Web

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

The 80s are back exhibition and online presence


Powerhouse Museum




Social Media


This exhibition and the resulting website and online presence developed through the heavy and integrated use of social media. Even before the exhibition was confirmed, the curators ran a blog, called for images on Flickr, and for leads and object loans on a Facebook page. In fact almost 50% of the exhibition's objects were loaned from fan communities). Just before launch the website switched to an exhibition-catalogue style of site, based on the idea of a magazine covering 80s music, subcultures, video games and more. These mini-essays (some up to 3000 words) were sourced from fan communities and continued to be released over the run of the exhibition as public events occurred in and around the museum itself.

After launch the social media presence of the site expanded to a dedicated Twitter feed, complimenting the Facebook page. The Flickr group was shutdown after it didn't gel with the community and an attempt to crowdsource feedback from within the exhibition itself using YouTube ended up being replaced with semi-pro interviews. There were even experiments with a Twitter 'request line' tweeting out song requests via

This dynamic and responsive approach to a social media strategy that evolved over the run of the exhibition was new to the museum and is documented in more detail here -

This exhibition has been one of the most popular homegrown shows from the Powerhouse collection and the web presence has been very successful both in terms of raw numbers and depth of engagement.