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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.

Online Presence and the Act of Not Just Being There. The Use of Social Media by Danish Museums

Abstract

Through the last decades, a large amount of different initiatives have been set to explore, innovate and develop the presence of museums online both in an international context and in a Danish setting.

The aim of this paper is to examine how the Danish museums understand and approach online communication with a focus on the use of social media. So far, the empirical based knowledge of how museums' actually act online in terms of social media is very scarce. This study will provide new insights into the field of digital museum communication and point to challenges of the present museum website categories by and ask if we need new categories to describe the museums online presence and communication.

The paper will take its point of departure in an outline of the Danish online museum landscape through an analysis of the museums' online content. This includes the presentation of the results of a content analysis of all the 123 state-owned and state-subsidized museums' websites and a study of the museums' use of social media. The content analysis focuses on the use of images, videos and sound effects or podcasts on the museum websites. The scope is to analyze how the Danish museums present themselves online and to discuss whether or not German media researcher Werner Schweibenz' four museum website categories (brochure, object, learning, and virtual museum) cover the reality of today's online museum communication.

The main part of the paper will, with Facebook as an example, examine the museums' presence on and use of social media platforms, examining different cases of Danish museums' interaction and communication on Facebook. According to Facebook's own statistics, Denmark is one of countries with the highest percentage of users per capita and every second Danish Internet user has a Facebook profile. Hence, the outreach potentials for the Danish museums are presumably high. The initial results of the investigation of the museums' social media use show, that half of all the Danish museums are present on Facebook, typically with a 'like' page, but a marginal number of museums also have a profile or a group. The paper will also use data from interviews with museum professionals and Facebook users and a content analysis of selected museums' Facebook ‘like' pages, profiles, and groups. The final paper will analyze how Facebook as a social network site with its specific design and interface and possibilities of interacting create both great potentials and barriers for when the museums interact and communicate online.

In addition to the above mentioned survey of Danish museums online, this paper will draw on data from my Ph.D. project on Online Museum Communication from a User Perspective and on new and unique data from a national survey of the Danish Museums' Web Users (2010) by The Heritage Agency of Denmark.

Type: 

Paper - in formal session

Authors

nholdgaard's picture
I'm a PhD student in the Digital Culture/Mobile Communication research at the IT University of Copenhagen, Denmark. My research interests include cultural communication, social media and museum studies and my PhD project focuses on the Danish museums’ online communication from a user perspective...