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Museums are getting social with their collections on Twitter

an old colourised slide showing a squid laid out on the beach and people looking at it

A beached giant squid. Lantern slides have been a big hit on Twitter for Scarborough Museums Trust. Courtesy SMT

With their public spaces closed, museums have been taking to social media to share their collections – here’s what we liked this week on Twitter

There are some excellent museum and heritage Twitter accounts that we love here at Museum Crush; the world famous MERL, BL Medieval Manuscripts and Orkney Library to name but a few, but with museums across the UK closed more of them are innovating and having fun on the social media platform.

Staff who haven’t found themselves furloughed for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis have been exploring all kinds of ways of connecting people with their collections online – and Twitter still seems to be a popular place to do it.

Museum jigsaws

Who would have thought museum jigsaws would be a draw? But for some people who are genuinely stuck at home with little to do, they are are apparently manna from heaven.

Creepy collections

A group of Museums in Yorkshire have been having fun with the #MuseumFromHome and #MuseumAlphabet hashtags. Things took a strange turn last Thursday when Barnsley Museum’s eyeless doll got everyone sharing their #CreepyCollections.

Fun with portraits

Meanwhile in the Midlands, the National Trust has been having fun with portraits. OK, we know the Louvre and the Getty may have copied their idea and others are at it too, but check out this innovative use of toilet paper. (We are assuming no toilet paper was wasted in the set up of this portrait recreation).

Museum of Me

Here’s a nice one for museum types stuck at home – you can now curate your own stuff and share it with other curatorially-minded people via Twitter. Why the hell not, eh?

Lockdown lantern slides

Collections Manager Jim Middleton from Scarborough Museums Trust has been posting regular images from the Trust’s collection of slides and glass plate negatives on Twitter, using the hashtag #lockdownlanternslides and, he says, the response has been remarkable with comments and queries from other museums, historians and the public nationwide.

Local Museums Unite

Local museums getting together on Twitter has been great boon to some museums who are now not only struggling to make ends meet but are also struggling to connect with their audiences, but tapping into local networks by using the hashtag #LocalMuseumsUnite is proving to be an innovative approach to sharing collections.

Dougie draws

So you thought Hockney blazed a trail for digital drawing and painting? Check out Perth and Kinross Museum’s #dougiedraws – a new artistic talent who can reinterpret any collection object pitched at him – from ancient log boats to this…

Isolation creations

The Ashmolean has long been a trailblazer for using its collection in innovative ways online and they are worth a follow even in calmer times, but their #IsolationCreations is proving a big hit with museum lovers at home.

You can take the curator out of the museum…

Meanwhile Dr Alice Blackwell, Curator of Medieval Archaeology & History at National Museums Scotland, conflated one of the great concerns of the day, disposable roll paper, with the day job. 

Hashtag the Cowboy

And finally, a mention has to go to the museum world’s latest internet star, Tim, the lone security guard of the National Cowboy Museum in Oklahoma City, USA. He’s been patrolling the museum alone and using Twitter to show off their collection. Told to use hashtags (by his grandson) he started writing “hashtag”. People love him and the museum’s Twitter account has grown by the thousands. Here he is effortlessly doing that museum coffee morning thing with a diorama. This Museum Twitter thing? Easy.

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