Museums expand into digital media engaging more audience

Museums expand into digital media engaging more audience

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Museums expand into digital media engaging more audience

AFP photo/ Karen BLEIER

Istanbul Modern has begun hosting a new program titled, “MUSEUMS TALK: FROM THE USA,” a lecture series providing prominent museum professionals from the U.S. with a platform to meet Istanbul audiences on a regular basis.

The series proposes a new conversation platform where contemporary museums and the museum experience in the broad sense are discussed. The first guest of the program was Director Neal Benezra of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMoMA).

Most young people today see an art piece for the first time online, said Benezra, who has been directing the SFMoMA since 2002, adding that the online presence of the museum was huge. “We are putting tremendous amounts of information and interesting material online to encourage people to visit the museum.”

SFMoMA is involved with all high technology developments, putting interviews with artists, school curriculums and much more on online. The move has been an effective manner of audience development, as museum studies have led directors to present and develop their museums online. The usage of online channels such as websites, social media like Facebook and Twitter, and channels such as Vimeo and YouTube help the museum better engage with their audience.

Istanbul Modern and digital channels

Museums expand into digital media engaging more audienceWhen it comes to audience development and engagement, Istanbul Modern is perceived as one of the most attractive art museums in Turkey.

“The Istanbul Modern attracts 2,000 people per day today, a very good figure when we consider museum trends in Turkey,” said Artistic Director and curator Levent Çalıkoğlu.

“Turkey has just started to learn museum management in private museums. A museum does not mean a place only where artwork is kept. There has to be education, communication, sponsorship, all the new communication systems should be involved to make the museum part of daily life,” Çalıkoğlu said.

“We are seeing this right now,” he said, adding that Istanbul Modern’s establishment of the latest series was an attempt to develop this concept. “America is a beginning for us. There will be other countries talking about their museums and facilities.”

The curator also said Istanbul Modern had newly revamped its website. “As everything goes mobile, no museum or any other institution can stay silent to these developments.” Çalıkoğlu said the museum also had a mobile application and “is working on establishing new digital channels to make the audience more interactive.”

Wearing many hats

Museums have changed, said Benezra, noting that they used to solely protect works of art in the past. “In a way we are still doing this, but we also have to share the art well and make the experience of the museum attractive and as exciting as it can be. The museum should be much more open to the audience whether it is [in person] or online.”

Giving the example of architecture, Benezra said that amid this year’s renovation of SFMoMA, the museum has decided to show their collection in galleries and museums across the city instead of closing the collection to visitors. The traveling collection will open in June.

It is not easy to manage museums in today’s world, Benezra said. “I am an art historian, but I should also be responsible for fundraising, management and administration of exhibition training and many other things.”

Management also means risk-taking. It is important to put enough information and interesting material online to encourage people to come, but there is a dangerous aspect to this new digital revolution, said Benezra. “The danger is that someone sees something on the screen, then feels they saw the original and say they saw the original.”

Çalıkoğlu agreed, saying: “There is a very thin line and border in this sense. Because while we are offering people works of art online, we should also encourage them to see the works of art in real life.”