MUSEUMS and galleries across Scotland can reach worldwide audiences like never before if they embrace social media according to one of the key note speakers at a social media seminar in Edinburgh this week [21 October 2010].
However, adds a spokesperson: “But if they do not, they risk falling behind in the digital revolution.”
Ewan McIntosh, Ddrector of digital business developers NoTosh, will warn Scottish cultural bodies that only by continuing to develop their digital spaces will they succeed in the future at attracting visitors and audiences from around the world.
His address is one of four keynote speeches at a one-day event on social media in the Scottish cultural heritage sector which will examine social media practice in museums, galleries, archives and other cultural institutions.
The seminar will look at what’s happening internationally and establish a focus for future research.
Aimed at professionals in museums and galleries with an interest in social media and education, the seminar also includes keynote speeches about experiences of social media in museum and gallery contexts from Carolyn Royston, head of New Media, Imperial War Museum; Michela Clari, University of Edinburgh and Gail Durbin, head of V&A Online.
Funded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the event is a partnership between the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS), University of Edinburgh, National Museums Scotland and the National Galleries of Scotland.
Keynote speaker, Ewan McIntosh, director of NoTosh, commented that:
“Scotland’s cultural and educational institutions must embrace the basic principle of ‘open up, share, be useful to people online’.
“An organisation’s physical space is always finite. But in the digital world it has the potential to be limitless.
“The onus is on organisations to find new audiences and provide new, clever ways for people to engage with their content, ideas and experiences.
“And it’s not about just attracting Scottish audiences to Scottish cultural fare – that is the death knell in a world where someone, somewhere else will offer just as compelling a cultural proposition in a far more engaging, accessible way – online.
“With the right approach, however, the nation’s cultural bodies can enhance their visibility and reputations across the globe like never before.”
Speaking on behalf of the partners, Rebecca Bailey, RCAHMS head of Education and Outreach, said:
“The digital realm represents an unparalleled opportunity for archives like ours to showcase material, information and expertise.
“The web is an incredibly powerful exhibition space, but also allows organisations to connect and interact with the widest possible audiences.
“But it is an area where ideas and technology develop at an incredible pace – our hope is that seminars like this will help to create a roadmap for Scotland’s cultural institutions to ensure we can be at the forefront of digital and social media innovations.”
Head of Digital Media at the National Museums Scotland, Hugh Wallace, said:
“Use of social media has started to play a significant role in how we communicate and converse with audiences.
“Building a base on platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Flickr has been an essential first step, but moving forward social tools will form an important part in how we involve people in our activities and extend the impact our museums make.”
Head of New Media at the National Galleries of Scotland, Tessa Quinn, said:
“Social media allows us to make connections like never before and has been a complete ‘game-changer’ for how we communicate.
“For cultural institutions, this means we are no longer just imparting our knowledge and expertise but participating in a real and creative dialogue with people across the globe.
“Utilising social media brings formidable challenges but by enabling visitors to become ambassadors, they forge stronger relationships with culture. We are being offered opportunities that we cannot afford to miss.”
Notes for Editors
- Social Media for the Scottish Cultural Heritage Sector takes place on 21 October 2010, 10am–5.00pm at the Hawthornden Lecture Theatre, National Galleries of Scotland. For more information see http://digitalfutures.rcahms.gov.uk/events/
- This event is free of charge, thanks to funding from the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Places can be booked online at: http://digifutures.eventbrite.com
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