The relationship between social media and art museums


Photo: Kelsey Kremer/Iowa State Daily

Telin Chung, assistant professor in apparel, events, and hospitality management, is doing research on social media and museums. 

Kiana Roppe

Museums are often thought of as being traditional and not very modern, but many museums are beginning to branch out.

Proof of this lies in research currently being conducted by Telin Doreen Chung, an assistant professor within the apparel, events and hospitality management department, about the benefits social media can provide art museums.

“The research will help museums decide which social media is effective and important to members and visitors, thus saving time, money and energy in the long run,” said Sara Marcketti, curator of the Textiles and Clothing Museum, professor in apparel, events and hospitality, and co-investigator for the study.

To conduct research, Chung and others involved are interviewing the director of communications for each Midwestern art museum involved while collecting responses from visitors via an online survey.

“For art museums, sustainability of the organization is largely dependent on maintaining a good relationship with the visitors,” Chung said.

This might be why art museums are beginning to use social media. The main sites art museums use to connect with the public are Facebook and Twitter.

On both of those sites, Chung said that the museums create events, share photos and generate conversations about artworks and exhibits to educate people beyond what they can see in the museum.

“We’re hoping we are able to let the museums know what kind of impact social media has on consumer perceptions,” Chung said. “Then they can know the most effective way to use social network services.”

Each art museum will be able to learn from their results as well as the results from other art museums. Potential outcomes, for art museums that decide to put more effort into using social media, can be inferred from all data.

Chung and other research team members are still conducting interviews and collecting data, so results are not available at this time. Chung said she hopes the research will be finalized early next semester.