Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Virtual museums

We came across a 2006 article from the NY Times yesterday that I thought vastly interesting, about how 75% of all visitors to the Metropolitan Museum of Art never cross the threshold. My first thought was "the admission fee!" but as you'll see, I misinterpreted this statement. I'm so used to free admission to great museums in Washington that I was taken aback on my first visit to the Met, seeing it was going to cost me $20 to get in. Worth it, of course, but a bit of culture shock (good pun, no?).

No, what the article meant was the Met has, as of 2006, 15 million visitors a year to its website, a huge number compared to the 4.5 million people who pay 20 bucks a pop. I understand the $20 is a suggested amount but, as one who works in a museum and has something of an understanding of what makes it go, I feel pretty guilty strolling in free.

It's this same kind of attempt to raise awareness of our museum that drives Mike and me and other staff to post samples of our stuff to our Flickr accounts (and hope, wish, hope for a Commons account), to the Internet Archive and to this blog. We have pretty cool things, just like the Met, that we want to share with everyone. No sense hiding our light under a basket, is there? We'd love to have the same kind of presence the Met has, and to see the same kind of numbers hitting our sites.

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