You know how Ira Glass recently broadcast his radio show This American Life live to movie theaters across North America? Next week, I'm doing something way less cool and way more convenient. I'm doing a workshop with the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History which includes a public lecture on "the multi-platform museum" on May 18 at 3pm ET (GMT -5). Because the Smithsonian is a public institution, the lecture will be free and open to anyone, both physically at the Baird Auditorium and digitally via a live webcast (here's the link, and no it doesn't work yet but don't worry, it will).
What is a multi-platform museum? It's a place that engages with visitors through many distribution mechanisms, including exhibits, programs, and the web. Most museums already are multi-platform places, but many consider each platform to be its own discrete silo rather than part of a strategic composite. I'll be talking about museums bridging online and onsite experiences to develop relationships with visitors that are not limited to prescriptive "pre-visit," "visit," and "post-visit" events or transactions. We'll talk about how to extrapolate your museum's mission into a roadmap for engaging with visitors in new ways, and we'll discuss how to analyze and evaluate what content experiences are right for different platforms. I'll share examples around personalization, behind-the-scenes connections, visitor participation on the floor, and of course, giant squid. The focus will be on the Smithsonian, which has a unique position as a national institution with over 20 venues, but many examples and design strategies are applicable to a broad range of museums.
I've been working with these ideas and museums for a long time, but this will be the first time I'm working with a place as big, complex, and bureaucratic as the Smithsonian. I usually try to push myself to think about social engagement from the perspective of the smallest museum with the most limited budget. But this is an opportunity to think big. What do you think the Smithsonian should be doing to engage more deeply and broadly with the public? What does the mission to "increase and diffuse knowledge" mean to you in this multi-platform world?
Please leave your thoughts in the comments and I will try to integrate them into my talk. I hope you'll be able to join me on March 18, digitally or physically. If you'd like more information about the event and whether large pom-poms are allowed in the auditorium, please contact Michael Mason at masonm (at) si (dot) edu.