Pinterest is the latest craze in Social Media. Although there are not many museums that have embraced Pinterest, there are a handful that have. Some notable examples are the J. Paul Getty Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, LACMA, Smithsonian, Chicago History Museum, Andy Warhol Museum, Indianapolis Museum of Art, and in Canada the Diefenbunker Museum.
There has been a bit of buzz in the museum world recently though. At the Minnesota Association of Museum’s annual meeting Erin E. Anderson of Museology Exhibits and Programs gave a Pinterest 101 presentation that is worthwhile checking out (especially ideas about crowdsourcing documentation of events).
If you aren’t sure what Pinterest is (or know someone who needs it explained to them) watch (or share) this video.
Watch this video to see how museums are using Pinterest.
So you might ask “Why should I create a Pinterest account? And how do I start?”
Let’s cover the Why first. There have been some articles that talk about how Pinterest is being successfully used to drive visitors to a user’s website (Pinterest driving online traffic and sales, Pinterest Drives more Traffic than Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn Combined, and How to Use Pinterest for Business). Pinterest is another way to reach your audience and raise your profile. Blog posts, upcoming events and exhibitions can be represented on Pinterest using images and links back to your museum’s website.
Like other Social Media it is possible to add a “follow” button to your website to encourage users to follow your Pinterest boards. It’s also possible to set up items on the website so that they can be easily pinned by adding a “pin it” button. Pinterest shows you how to do this very easily (and so do I in the first video posted above – How to Pinterest with edgital.org).
Besides the benefits I mentioned, Pinterest is exciting because it allows communities to be formed based on shared interests. All those closet curators now have a space to show their interests and display their skills. Museums, where traditional curators live, should be involved in this activity. It’s an excellent opportunity to feed content to these hungry pinners.
Okay now onto the How. The first step should be to do a search of your museum or organization on Pinterest. See what images are already being used, where they are sourced from, and how people are categorizing them. This will give you an idea of what sorts of images there is already a market for and allow you to add more images to this on your own boards so they are easy for others to repin.
Next think about how your collection fits into the niche markets on Pinterst. Do you have fashion items? Crafting examples? Decorative arts? Use these parts of your collection on Pinterest.
Then you must decide how you would like to interpret your collection on Pinterest. Take a look at the museums I mentioned and see what fits your museum and consider what you wish to accomplish with Pinterest. Do you want to reinforce existing interpretation? Do you want to take the opportunity to create new interpretation that is not possible in the physical museum? Would you like to capture and record ephemeral programs and events? Or do something new and different? If you do please let me know! Please post a link to your Pinterest page in the comments section below so that we can admire it and learn from each other.