Museums must become more open to what author Lisa Gansky calls "The Mesh". If consumers can't take pictures, consume and mashup a museum's content they are missing the open source future that is right around the mobile phone powered corner.
Rethinking The Museum: Why Open Source Will Win In The End
Museums Are Stupid
Actually museums are brilliant, but most people who manage museums haven't gotten the new social media marketing memo. I was reminded of how out of touch museums can be the other day.
I called our very good small museum, The North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA), to ask about shooting a marketing video in the museum. Not allowed I was told UNLESS I was a nonprofit.
What? Are you kidding me?
Yes I wanted a beautiful backdrop for our marketing videos, but I also wanted to incorporate (or mashup if you will) several favorite paintings into our marketing discussion. I agree I shouldn't be able to profit from a museum built with my tax dollars, but that is not what I was attempting to accomplish.
The Benefactor = The Museum.
I wasn't going to resell the video or make money from it at least not directly. If I discuss Internet marketing standing in front of their amazing Alex Katz painting and incorporate the work into my presentation what is being advertised more?
Answer = The Museum.
Teaching in our Thank You Economy (great book by Vaynerchuk) is a great way to disrupt, market and share. Teaching at the museum is mutually beneficial. They get free PR and awareness and that is our table stakes in the game or how we repay their willingness to allow us to shoot there.
By being more generous about how their space can be used they INCREASE their awareness, visitors and change their context. Changing the experience of the brand is important to bringing in new people. Most museums are arrogant about shifting paradigms and context.
Museums are the proverbial small fish in a big pond. Even the majors are FLEAS when it comes to marketing. Fleas who could be giants if they take an expansive view of their mission and content. If NCMA allowed filming then I and the others who film there gain a little even as the museum gains more.
Every museum must overcome the notion of being stuffing, elitist and so "not for me" in most people's minds. Museums are so self referential and dependent on the same rich people's support they trip over the mob's millions to pick up the rich guy's quarters.
The real money for any museum is in being seen as OPEN and ENGAGING. We live in hectic times. We consumers reserve our free time for places that are OPEN and ENGAGING such as Starbucks, the movies and the great outdoors.
Museums are stupid if they don't understand a simple truth - they must compete for our attention just like any other brand. Here is the real pity. NCMA is a GREAT small museum and that is the real reason I wanted to ADVOCATE for them.
Their refusal to allow us to film is left over from an old time when copyright laws ruled the land. Not so much anymore because the (c) genie is out of the bottle. I used The Scream by Munch as the visual for this piece because it is a true horror story to museums. Seems someone forgot to do something and Munch's painting of universal angst wasn't protected.
As a result my ex-wife sold an inflatable scream blowup doll. Here is my real lesson for Museum Directors. That doll introduced a new generation of people to Munch's work. The benefits of open source museum-ing are so much greater than its costs that smart museum Directors are already headed to a more inclusive and open ecosystem.
Here is my other important point: In the end, it doesn't matter what YOU want or think becasue open source will win in the end. There is no putting this mashup genie back in any bottle. Museum directors should relax and learn to love our abilit to roll their precious content like a burrito or they will alienate advocates and become the thing museums fear most - becoming an elitist institution with no relevance or meaning to anyone other than themselves.
Here endeth my open source musem scream :).