Interstitial Spaces: Social Media as a Tool for Community Engagement

Seema Rao, Cleveland Museum of Art

Published paper: Interstitial spaces: social media as a tool for community engagement

Social media offers platforms and venues to develop interstitial spaces between museums and visitors. Encouraging such interstitial spaces, fostered through shared ownership with audiences, can be instrumental to expanding and diversifying museum visitorship. With social media, museums have the opportunity to relinquish authority, develop shared meaning, and increase stakeholders involved. Additionally, the creative nature of social media, such as Instagram, allows innovation and action in a large-scale manner. This paper will share one such project, Clevelanders, an Instagram challenge implemented during the Cleveland Museum of Art’s centennial year. This project was conceived as a response the museum’s founders, who began their collection by acquiring numerous Colonial American portraits. The museum invited the Cleveland community to create and digitally display 1,916 portraits of our community. We explore how social media can catalyze community action and creativity as a means of expanding the museum community. We will share challenges and successes. The team will then extrapolate ways that such projects can support and foster community engagement and audience development work in museums.

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