General questions about curating and curatorial issues on Open Museum
How do I become a curator? (+)
We love curators on Open Museum, and are happy to work with you if you’re interested in becoming one. It takes a little work, a little time, and a little commitment.
If you think you’d like to become a curator of a new or existing museums, take this quick self-test and if the answer to all of these questions is yes, contact us.
Do you have an idea for a museum and access to its content (whether it be virtual or bricks and mortar)?
Do you have access to a high speed internet connection (satellite or better; not dial up modem)?
Have you read and watched all of the material provided in the curator resources?
Are you willing to work closely with the Open Museum team to plan and fully launch your museum?
Are you willing to commit to posting a new object (thickened with multiple facets) each week?
Are you willing to meet, greet and generally interact with visitors to your museum?
Are you willing to give it a whirl for at least 3 months?
How do I prepare to curate a collection on Open Museum? (+)
We’ve found the best way to create collections on Open Museum is to “blog” them. That means creating one object at a time, over time. The best objects are those that are “thick:” they have more than one page of information about them. For example, if you are going to create a collection of paintings, one thick object could contain all of the following: an image of the painting and some explanatory text describing the painting; another page of information about the process of creating that painting—why you (or the artist) chose to use the medium, the size, the format, etc; and maybe another page that contains a photograph of what inspired you, or a video of you painting, or even an audio track of you or someone else describing your work.
Think of curating in this way: what do YOU like to see, read, hear, and experience when you visit a collection? Plan to create what you like, and you’ll be creating a collection worth visiting.
How complicated is it to get started curating? (+)
It’s not complicated at all. We create a museum for you, add you as a curator, and show you how to create collections of objects. What we have found works best with new curators is to talk on the phone or via email (if your phone service is spotty or you live in a crazily different time zone) to help you get some materials prepared, then walk you through the process of building the first couple of objects. It hasn’t taken anyone more than a couple of hours to learn just about everything there is to know about building a collection on Open Museum.
And remember we’re always around to help answer questions and help fix problems.
What kind of images do I need for a collection? (+)
We’d recommend at least one photo of each object, preferably with enough resolution to make looking at them a treat. Something in the vicinity of 1400 pixels in the widest dimension is ideal (though we can do the scaling for you, so anything bigger than that is fine too.)
Remember that collections on Open Museum can include embedded video and slideshows as well as stand-alone images.
How many people can curate the same collection? (+)
We don’t put a limit on the number of people who want to collaborate on a collection; that’s up to whomever wants to be the boss of your project. But keep in mind that changes, additions, and edits to collections are permanent—there aren’t any “do overs” if you delete an entire collection, for example (although we will probably be building those fail-safes in the future). So it’s important to have a common vision and goal for what you want to achieve with your collection, and a plan for who will do what and when. The old phrase, “too many cooks spoil the soup,” is a cliche for a reason.
How can I communicate with other curators of my museum? (+)
The best way to communicate with other curators is to use the curator forum. When you are in curator mode, click on the talking hard hat in the upper right sidebar of your screen. This will take you to the curator forum. You can post a new message or respond to questions or comments from others. All curators of your museum have access to your curator’s forum and all receive notice of messages posted on the forum.
Can I create a whole collection at one time? (+)
Well, you can, but the whole point of creating collections over time is to invite visitors to come back and see what’s new. If you put up thirty objects at once that contain one image and no text, for example, visitors will click through once and never come back. And why would they? There’s nothing else to see.
But if you create one object with three or four different and interesting pieces of information about it (like video, audio, some great text, a couple of images of the same object from different angles, for example) and you do this once a week, every week, people are going to want to visit your collection again and again.
We’d like to think that creating a collection on Open Museum isn’t about getting your stuff online as fast as possible and then checking it off your to-do list; rather, creating a collection on Open Museum should be as fun and rewarding for the curator as it will be for the visitor who gets to experience and appreciate the effort you’ve put into it.
How often should I update my collection? (+)
You can update your collection as often as you’d like—from our perspective, the more updating you do, the better the collection will be. Conversely, if you never update your collection, it grows stale, no one comes to visit it, and the work you put into it originally goes down the drain. We recommend curators add something to their collections once a week or so. It can be a new object, or a new perspective on an existing object. Visitors want relationships with the museums they visit; it’s your opportunity to create those relationships and keep them from being one-sided.
How do I start and keep discussions going on my museum wall? (+)
The best way to start a discussion is to ask an open-ended question so other members can chime in. If you choose to be notified when someone responds to a post you made on the wall (see Notifications in your Account to enable this notification feature), you will receive an email anytime someone responds to a post you’ve made so you can go back to the wall and respond.
How can I archive or remove old wall conversations? (+)
You don’t need to do anything; wall posts are ephemeral, so eventually they will scroll off the page and out of your life. The more activity that occurs on a wall, the sooner old posts disappear.
How can I get more people to come visit my collection or museum? (+)
Let them know you have one—invite people to come to Open Museum to view your collections. Encourage them to register so they can rate, comment, and participate in discussions. Active users are a collection’s best friends.
How can I communicate with friends of my museum? (+)
You can communicate both with friends of your museum on Open Museum, as well as with patrons, museum benefactors, and the general public several different ways via Open Museum.
You can view all of the people who have friended your museum by looking at the Friends box on the right-hand sidebar. Any announcements you create for your museum will be sent to these friends either via email or as a feed on their home page. You can also contact them by posting messages on the wall.
You can also use OMo as an outreach tool to members of your physical museum community: you can email any of the object pages in your museum to someone. On the right-hand sidebar of every object page you’ll find a small envelope icon that says, “Email this page to a friend.” Simply click on the link and an email address and dialogue box will appear. You can write a short message to include with the link to the page.
And remember that any announcements you make about your museum also appear on your museum’s home page, so that anyone who visits your museum on Open Museum will be able to read the announcement, regardless of whether or not they are a museum friend or registered user.
How do I point people to particular objects in my museum? (+)
You can do this several different ways:
Create an Announcement about a particular object (to do this, follow instructions posted in “How can I make an Announcement,” above)
Email an object page to anyone you want (see “How can I communicate with friends of my museum” for more information on that)
Make a comment on the object itself. This will appear on both the object and the museum wall. Remember that you can promote comments on objects so they become permanent contributions to the information about an object.
Where do I go with questions? (+)
You can ask, answer and talk about questions and curatorial issues several ways on Open Museum. First, if you have things to talk about with the curators of your museum, you can use your museum’s curator forum. To use the curator’s forum, click on the hard hat to get into curator mode, and then click on the little talking hard hat in the right-hand sidebar. That will take you to your museum’s curator forums. The forums are a very convenient location to have conversations with other curators in your museum about exhibits, collections, etc.
If you have issues, questions, or topics of general interest to all curators on Open Museum, post to the general Open Museum Curators forum (Curators Resources & Discussion) in the MeTA museum. The MeTA museum is Open Museum’s own museum and where we keep all things curatorial.
If you have public arts-related stuff to talk about, post to the Arts Talk forum.
And if you’d like to talk with a site administrator, simply email us at email@example.com and we’ll get back to you right away.