If you’re not familiar with the photo festival that is Museum Selfie Day it is an annual worldwide event during which museums encourage visitors to share their own selfies taken in museums tagged with #MuseumSelfie to share on social media.
The event is the brain child of digital and social innovator Mar Dixon, an American based in the UK, and has been running since 2014. On her blog Dixon describes herself as a ‘Troublemaker and/or advocate, depending on what you need.’ Museum Selfie Day is just one example of programs Dixon has come up with to encourage fun social media use in museum settings. Museum Selfie Day has had its detractors in the past, but judging by the volume of photos, tweets, and posts on other media people have well and truly embraced the concept for the fun that it brings and the opportunity it offers to share a love of museums world wide.
Scanning the twitter feed this year I think I saw one negative tweet suggesting it’s not a good idea to be encouraging people to photograph themselves ‘when they should be looking at the exhibits’. (I won’t link to that one, it’s already been buried by the deluge of museum selfies.) Personally I think we’ve got past the point of having to defend photo taking, and selfies in particular, in museums, but once in a while something like that lone tweet pops up to remind me that not everyone is in that space yet.
This year I noticed some museums encouraging their visitors to ‘put yourself in the picture’ with a museum selfie. This is at the heart of what I think many museum professionals hope to achieve with the exposure Museum Selfie Day brings, not just promotion but visitors taking part in a dialogue with museums. Last year there was criticism from a small number of people that the feed appeared to include a majority of posts from museums and staff (unfortunately I’m having trouble finding the links for those conversations buried in the twittersphere). There are of course networking opportunities from an event like this allowing colleagues in the GLAM sector (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums) to connect with each other and see the faces behind the scenes. It’s not just about visitors. Museum professionals have enthusiastically embraced the idea, many with creative interpretations of the selfie, but that doesn’t mean the event doesn’t reach visitors at all.
Trending online means museums come to the attention of social media users who may not be actively following museums already. Museum Selfie Day provides an opportunity for our visitors and the general public to see the people and the passion ‘behind the scenes’ at museums and connect on a level they might not from the common collection or exhibition based post. Other blogs have presented thoughtful arguments for the power of social media to connect people and collecting institutions. Museum Selfie Day is also an opportunity for conversation with people who are already passionate about museums but haven’t found ours yet.
I’ve selected a few #MuseumSelfie favourites here, with a focus on South Australia and a small sample from interstate (the two above are of course from further afield). This is just a taste, make sure you pop over to Twitter and Instagram, or your social media platform of choice, and take a look at the shots from around the world. They flooded in yesterday from far and wide, starting in New Zealand and with a noticeable increase in posts as the northern hemisphere woke up and posts popped up from museums in the US, the UK, and everywhere in between. There are currently over 37, 000 posts on Instagram alone tagged using #MuseumSelfie, I don’t have a break down of this year’s numbers yet.
South Australian museums and visitors clearly had fun on the day.
A few familiar, and famous faces popped up in other places.
Bailey is ready for #MuseumSelfieDay ? ?? complete with #HMBEndeavour in the background ?? . • #ANMM #Bailey #Selfie #Sydney #SydneyHarbour #Summer #Sunshine #ItsADogsLife A photo posted by Aust. National Maritime Museum (@anmmuseum) on
History Trust Museums & staff got into the spirit of things.
As did the Community Programs team
It’s #museumselfie Day! We caught this little guy posing in front of last year’s History Festival poster. Maybe he is hoping for a spot on the 2017 cover? Don’t forget to share your Museum selfies today! #sahistfest #museumselfieday #2017 #fun #Museums #visit #family #schoolholidays #January #international #photooftheday #selfie #letmetakeaselfie #whatson #southaustralia #laugh #engage #learn #somethingdifferent #getinvolved #today #share #igers #instagood @museumselfieday @migration_museum @sa_maritime_museum @natmotormuseumaus @historysa A photo posted by SA History Festival (@historyfestival) on
We even managed to get a few from our office together for a group selfie.
Next year we might perfect it …
It’s always a great day, an excuse for those of us who are not regularly on the museum floors to get out of the office, and introduces us to new museums, organisations and people we haven’t connected with on social media previously. If you love museums it’s a wonderful way to share that, and promote your favourite places. I always hope that when the hashtag trends someone who’s never stepped foot in a museum before will perhaps plan a visit, or even follow a museum online, and be introduced to the wonderful world we’re so passionate about.