Bloggers in Residence, the story so far…
West Midlands Museum Development joined forces with Writing West Midlands to create opportunities for professional writers and museums to team up to explore opportunities to increase audience engagement through better use of social media.
Six museums, selected via a competitive application process, were offered a ‘Blogger in Residence’ for a period of five days from June to September 2017.
The following matches were made:
- Museum of Cannock Chase and Jean Atkin
- Pen Museum and William Gallagher
- Royal Birmingham Society of Artists and Louise Palfreyman
- Rugby Art Gallery and Museum and Mandy Ross
- Tudor House Museum and Liz Hyder
- Wolverhampton Art Gallery and Jo Bell
Everyone involved has approached the opportunity with extraordinary energy and enthusiasm. Here’s what has happened at three museums so far:
Royal Birmingham Society of Artists and Louise Palfreyman
“I’m really enjoying my residency with the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists. It was very clear from the outset that the Society has a wealth of interesting stories to tell, past and present: there’s two centuries of archive content in the Permanent Collection, and a very active current membership. In addition, the RBSA hosts some world-class exhibitions.
My focus so far has been to find ways of engaging the public with some of these stories, so I’ve been writing historical features, interviews with artists, and coverage of events. The blog has had a redesign, and is now seeing more traffic as we start to spread the word about the RBSA to a wider audience. Social media channels were already well-established, but we’re finding ways of reaching new people with the writing being generated.
I’m learning a lot about the sector, and about the need to communicate the passion and drive behind our museums and galleries in a way that is fresh and exciting. Part of my work has included putting on writing workshops, and I hope to encourage more people to attend these as my time at the RBSA continues.”
Check out the RBSA blog here
*Art Blog screen shot and Portrait Prize entry, ‘Pauline’ by Steve Caldwell
Rugby Art Gallery and Museum and Mandy Ross
“The team has welcomed me in as blogger in residence, encouraging me to bring an outside eye to raise the profile of Rugby Art Gallery and Museum and awareness of their work within the town. They have been tremendously supportive, sharing stories, and explaining the extremely busy and productive process of preparing new exhibitions. I’ve learned so much about the invisible work required behind the scenes, and also the rich and creative outreach work going on with a wide range of groups and communities in the town.
I’ve been focusing in the first half of the project on attending and writing about events. I’ve been gathering ideas and information, and inviting people’s responses with a questionnaire designed to encourage engagement. It’s been great getting in conversation, and finding out what people bring and what they expect from this showcase of life, art and history in their home town.
We’ve created a newly established blog, posted on the front page of RAGM’s website. This work is still growing, featuring staff’s work, new exhibitions, people’s responses and some of the many events going on in and around the gallery, particularly during the Rugby Festival. Here’s the link www.rugby.gov.uk/blog/ragm
Now that the blog is getting established, and there’s plenty to see and respond to, for the second half of the project I’ll be focusing on building its public profile. I’m aiming to get more conversation going, growing the reach of the blog, and building on the social media work already going on there. Watch this space!”
*Photos provided by Rugby Art Gallery and Museum
Tudor House Museum and Liz Hyder
“I’ve been having a fascinating time immersing myself in the world of the Tudor House Museum, meeting volunteers, rummaging through the collection and working closely with the wonderful Tonia Collett who heads up the Museum. Together, we’ve drafted a social media strategy and a plan and we’re exploring how to make the museum’s ongoing social media presence sustainable but also flexible as the museum is currently in the process of applying for funding which would shift the shape and feel of the Museum considerably over the coming years. The Museum is a really warm, welcoming and special place with a fascinating history, links to some intriguing and little known people and stories and unusual objects. Over the past month or two, I’ve been collating assets, pictures, stories and experiences and I’ll be running a short creative writing workshop this month along with a social media and creativity workshop in August. So far it’s been a really collaborative and fun process and I’m looking forward to seeing what more Tonia and I can achieve in the months ahead.”
*Italian students at Tudor House Museum, photos provided by Liz Hyder