The best metaphor for the Walker New Media blog is a fish bowl. Through the glass, we can watch the fish swim, eat, and breath. Through a fish bowl blog, we can learn more about the everyday life of the institution and how staff contribute to the Walker's mission. Some of the entries of what you can read on the Walker Blog, may appear at first glance to be mundane details of cube life, but then you remember that it is a museum blog and it makes the institution seem more human. And, for a museum that is presenting contemporary art -- anything that helps us demystify the artistic process and better understand the art is, in my opinion, a good thing.
The photo above is the cubicle and workspace of Eric Williams who is a new media designer at the Walker Art Center and one of the staff bloggers who contributes to the Walker New Media Initiative Blog. This Walker Blog let's us peer into the inner workings of the art institution. We can learn about the status of the Walker's signage project, its "Art on Call" project, and more formal communication such as articles that will be published in the forthcoming newsletter. For example, this one about the exhibition called: "The Table."
Here's what Eric had to say about the blog:
Why did the Walker start to blog?
We started blogging to give a online to a lot of different people at the Walker who may be represented by official websites but wanted a more personal and direct way to communicate with their audiences via the internet.
Has the Walker developed formal guidelines for your posts to the blogs?
So far we are treating blogs as informal communication tools where we share what is happening with our work candidly.
What do you think the value/benefit of a blog is to your organization?
It allows us to contribute the knowledge we gain with our peers and it allows the public to see what goes into making an art center function.
What are some of the challenges to blogging in a nonprofit arts organization?
The biggest challenge is to get people to contribute a few hours a week to writing. I'm sure people feel generally uncomfortable writing something so casually that is out there for the public.
Words of advice to others
This is a place to honestly show people what happens at an institution. That sort of authenticity is still unusual.
I had also asked about what the leadership thought about blogging. Eric suggested that I email his boss, Robin Dowden, Director of New Media Initiatives. Here is her response:
I see you've already posted the interview you did with Reggie. While Reggie was empowered by the director of his department, the idea of blogging came from new media. We've been talking about the possibilities for well over a year, trying to convince the programming departments that this was another tool they should consider using to connect with their audiences. In early Feb, we finally installed WordPress and started using it to talk about our own work. The education department wanted a website for their Civic Engagement Initiative, and a blog seemed like a good match. Reggie/education was an early adopter but we hope to see our film/video and performing arts departments in full swing by end of summer.
As a new media group within a contemporary art center, we're always looking for new technology opportunities to advance our institutional mission. I saw your posts on Art Mobs. You might be interested in the Walker's cell phone-based audio guide: Art on Call. See
In the next couple of months, visitors will have the option of downloading these stops to their mp3 players, and we're trying to start a project within Walker's teen programs to remix Walker.
Well, I for one can't wait until the other departments start blogging and will keep an eye on the teen program to remix Walker ...
For more about the Walker Blog, check out the "Bloggerview" I did with the other Walker blogger, Reggie Prim, a few days ago.