In a 560,000-square-foot,  Beaux-Arts building, the Brooklyn  Museum is one of the oldest and largest art museums in the country. It’s  also one of the most web 2.0.

With a new css website,  blog, and active profiles across MySpace, Facebook, Flickr , YouTube, and Twitter, this world famous  institution is plugged into all the right spaces.

Led by their fearless web  2.0 hero, Shelley Bernstein, the museum has found innovative new ways to  interface with emerging artists and visitors with viewpoints.

In October for example, the museum launched a ?Visitor Video Competition? where visitors were  invited to film a one minute video showing how the museum experience looked  through their eyes, all of which can be watched below from the Museum’s You Tube page.
Winners were announced on November 3rd and include: Mr. Cool, the Art Thief, and Off the Wall.

Submissions were judged  by an impressive panel including Christina  Norman, President of MTV Music Television; Danny Simmons of the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation; and Patrick Amsellem,  Associate Curator of Photography at the Brooklyn Museum.  First, second, and third-prize winners will share a visit to William Wegman‘s studio to meet the  artist and his canine muses. Thanks to the wonders of a web 2.0 world, a simple visit to the museum could transform into an emerging artists big break.

We caught up with Shelley to learn more about the recent competition, the museum?s foray into web 2.0 fray, and find out how emerging artists can get more involved with the museum.


BROOKLYN ART PROJECT (BAP): What gave you the idea to let  visitors record their own "cinematic explorations" of the Museum?

BROOKLYN MUSEUM (BM): With all of our profiles on Web 2.0  sites (Flickr, MySpace, YouTube, blip.tv, Twitter), we try and tailor the  content to each particular community. We started to talk about how to really engage the YouTube audience and decided that we wouldn’t necessarily push our own content, but ask for it instead.  That equation seemed more natural in the YouTube community. Our Public Information department had been working with Max and Bryant at Pratt to pull together their video and it  provided a good launching point for our contest.  I love the fact that the videos in the competition have garnered more views than our own content,  which really speaks to our original idea of asking for content from our community of visitors.

BAP: What surprised you most about the  submissions?

BM: Many staffers  are watching the videos as they come in and the one thing everyone keeps remarking about is the wide range.  All of them are so different in tone and theme – directors got really creative and the content has been surprising.  The results are as diverse, goofy and exciting as Target First Saturday itself, so they reflect the event in a unique way.  It’s always interesting to see things you deal with every day in a new light.  This is similar to all the photos we see in our Flickr group – I often  see things that I wouldn’t expect.  In terms of my own dailyexperience of working here, it keeps things fresh.

BAP: It’s pretty forward  thinking of the museum to be embracing web 2.0 technology in this way, are there more "visitor-content" projects  in the works?

BM: Our mission is community-oriented and so Web 2.0 is a natural extension of what do all the time.  Visitor content has its roots in the galleries…going back to our "Community Voice" labels next to  objects that featured quotes from visitors next.  I think the technology is enabling us to incorporate our visitors’ voices more easily and we think about this constantly.  In one ongoing and recent example, we are replacing the paper comment books in the galleries to electronic versions. 

The e-versions allow visitor comments to be displayed directly on the web for all to see, in addition to the galleries. They also help us internally  because the comments are easier for us to view, think about and respond to if necessary. In terms of  upcoming projects, we’ve got a few things we are thinking about and testing but nothing concrete  just yet.  The results were so great from the Video Competition we are thinking about doing that on an annual basis.

BAP: The museum’s blog and podcasts are  really well done, can you tell our members a bit more about them?

BM: Thanks so much!  In our podcasts we try and stick to  the original idea of a podcast – spontaneous and not so polished.  We really want to get content out there, so we try not to go too crazy over the editing and the sound quality.  We just overhauled  the blog  back in June after some inspiration from other bloggers. The idea now is to try and provide a really open, behind-the-scenes look at the museum. Authors are easily identified, so readers know exactly who’s posting, and we are covering a wide variety of perspectives.  To stay true to the idea of blogging, the content is direct from author to reader.  We have a set of guidelines for our bloggers, but otherwise the content is directly published.

If you have a feed reader,  you can subscribe to our RSS feeds.  On any page of our website, a visitor can click the RSS symbol in the address bar and see all the content that can be subscribed to (including the blogs, the podcasts, events, Target First Saturday schedule info, etc.). For some reason, the RSS in the address bar does not show up in IE, so if you are using that browser look for the RSS symbol on our blog or podcast pages in the Community area of our site.

BAP: How can local emerging artists get  more involved with the museum?

BM: This is a really great question and  one that the Museum is addressing in our current strategic planning meetings.  While the staff and the Board of Trustees are still in discussions about this, the Museum is thinking about ways to connect with the amazing community of artists who are living and working in Brooklyn Also of note,  we have some history here too – we had a series of exhibitions in the past called Working in Brooklyn, and more recently, Open House, which might be of interest.

Explore more at brooklynmuseum.org or visit any of the Brooklyn Museum community links below:


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