Here’s a different way to think of museums as being social:
This graph shows the connections between works of art and users of the Walters Museum of Art online collection. The Walters website has a Community Collections feature where anyone can make and share their own selection of objects from what’s available. On the chart, the blue nodes are individual community collections connected by the lines to artworks (green nodes). I’ve included only artworks that occur in two or more collections, so the collections are connected to each other through the objects they share (and, inversely, the object are connected through the collections that share them)
I’ve long been skeptical about personal “collections” on museum websites. They’ve always seemed like dead ends to me—useful, perhaps, for some classroom activities but not much else. I’m still skeptical of the concept as we often see it, but as the website becomes less of a destination and more of a platform for other kinds of interaction I’m becoming more interested by the trails that those interactions leave behind. “My collection” may be a dead end if it’s just the result of picking objects out of a collections database interface, but if it’s the record of things I’ve tweeted, or tagged in a mobile app or used to create a mashup or something else more concrete as part of some activity then it’s starting to tell us more about how real people use a museum.
The Walters’ “Community Collections” are still just objects picked out of a database, but I like their redesigned online collection and they’ve made it very easy to share things that catch your interest. As I was reviewing it as an example for my students—and having just assigned Nicholas Christakis’ TED Talk "The hidden influence of social networks" the previous week—I began to wonder what the network of these community collections would look like.
Behold, the graph.
There is one thing that this graph can tell us right awy about how this community, acting as a community, sees this collection. The yellow node in the middle of the graph is the artwork with the highest "degree centrality". It is, in a way, the most popular work of art. It has the most and best connections, and if there were a cold or flu running through the collection, this work would be sure to catch it. It is Ingres’ Odalisque with Slave:
The next 4 most central objects are:
What interests me about this list is that no one was asked to make it, it simply emerged from an activity with no particular goal. If you asked people to vote on “the most important work in the collection” I’m sure you would get a completely different answer. Of course, “central” on this graph doesn’t mean “important” in any conventional sense. What then does it mean? I don’t know—I just made the graph for fun—but if we can invite more meaningful interactions with collections and watch the connections and paths that are drawn along the way, I hope that it will become another area of curatorial interest, or community interest for that matter. Whatever it means, the position of Odalisque with Slave in this graph is not really a fact about the painting but as much as its a fact about the painting as a element in a human activity. At a time when we’re often wondering why people should, would or do go to museums and why museums should be funded those are important facts.
Some technical notes: The data was collected on October 23, 2011 by simply screen-scraping. The graph was made with NetworkX and if anyone knows how to get NetworkX to spread the nodes out to make a less cramped graph, please let me know!
Why the Walters? It’s just what I was looking at (because I think they’ve done a good job on their redesign), I could figure out pretty quickly how to get the data (an API would’ve been nice!) and it was a manageable amount.
There’s not much surprise in the numbers of new Twitter followers and Facebook fans for museums in the whole of September. The 10th anniversary of September 11th naturally brought a lot of attention to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. There is, however, a great difference in the scale of this interest, with the Memorial gaining 70% more followers on Twitter, but an amazing 591% (56,804 followers) on Facebook! My take on this is that a Facebook page is itself something of a destination, so a lot of people may “like” a Facebook page around a big event just as they would visit the site — a vote of commemoration as it were. Is Facebook the shallowest end of visiting, Twitter the shallowest end of joining?
There is also Saatchi. Having spent a long time as the “biggest mover” on Facebook, they look now to be repeating that on Twitter.
Making these graphs has been an interesting experiment, and I think the graphs raise some questions. For instance, the group of “Big Movers” on Twitter is very distinct. There is a sizable gap for museums between about 10,000 and 50,000 followers (between the grey/red and the blue dots), and another between 100,000 and 200,000 (between the blue and the green). Most of the institutions with between 50 and 100K gain new followers at a rate well above average. Not only is their rate above average, they rates are all very close together, right around 22%. What is it about this zone? Does is correlate to anything outside of social media?
However, these graphs are getting a bit repetitious (and the day job has been very busy) so I’m going to stop with this format, certainly on a weekly basis. Instead, I’m going look for better ways of visualizing these numbers in order to dig out some kind of useful information and post those results.
Any suggestions? What visualizations would help make sense?
|Natural History Museum, London||70,966||86,931||15,965||22.50%|
|United States Holocaust Memorial Museum||61,837||74,424||12,587||20.36%|
|Asian Art Museum||56,359||68,337||11,978||21.25%|
|American Latino Museum||49,957||61,558||11,601||23.22%|
|American Museum of Natural History||49,731||60,430||10,699||21.51%|
|The Walters Art Museum||47,079||57,605||10,526||22.36%|
|The Jewish Museum||43,856||53,851||9,995||22.79%|
|de Young Museum||49,068||58,721||9,653||19.67%|
|Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History||47,755||57,202||9,447||19.78%|
|National September 11 Memorial & Museum||7,068||12,027||4,959||70.16%|
|Moscow Museum of Modern Art||3,834||5,096||1,262||32.92%|
|Curbs and Stoops||1,995||2,544||549||27.52%|
|Art Center Gallery||1,079||1,359||280||25.95%|
|Sweeney Art Gallery||1,563||1,927||364||23.29%|
|National September 11 Memorial & Museum||9,604||66,408||56,804||591.46%|
|Central Park Zoo||3,008||4,245||1,237||41.12%|
|National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum||23,885||32,274||8,389||35.12%|
|Auckland Art Gallery||2,198||2,748||550||25.02%|
I’ve got to make up for missing last week’s post, so this one will be a double.
The British Library finally passed 200,000 Twitter followers, so they will now be counted in the “big leagues.” Saatchi, long the biggest mover on Facebook, is suddenly coming on strong on Twitter as well. They made the list of over-achievers with a 7.5% increase for the week ending 9/17, and followed up the next week at the top of the big movers with an increase over 65%.
The National September 11 Memorial & Museum beat out Saatchi as the biggest mover on Facebook for the week of 9/11. It looks like the New York City Fire Museum got a lift also both on Facebook and Twitter. I walk past this museum often (it’s just around the corner from Guggenheim HQ). Did you know fire chiefs get beautiful ceremonial megaphones?
|American Latino Museum||53,508||56,293||2,785||5.20%|
|Natural History Museum, London||76,607||79,185||2,578||3.37%|
|National September 11 Memorial & Museum||9,382||11,956||2,574||27.44%|
|The British Library||197,036||199,357||2,321||1.18%|
|Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History||50,629||52,838||2,209||4.36%|
|Asian Art Museum||60,595||62,550||1,955||3.23%|
|United States Holocaust Memorial Museum||66,385||68,324||1,939||2.92%|
|American Museum of Natural History||53,701||55,382||1,681||3.13%|
|The Walters Art Museum||50,806||52,476||1,670||3.29%|
|de Young Museum||52,574||54,228||1,654||3.15%|
|The Jewish Museum||47,333||48,886||1,553||3.28%|
|Art Center Gallery||1,135||1,237||102||8.99%|
|Moscow Museum of Modern Art||4,189||4,535||346||8.26%|
|Adam & Philippa||1,833||1,984||151||8.24%|
|Miami Children’s Museum||1,873||1,993||120||6.41%|
|New York City Fire Museum||1,315||1,398||83||6.31%|
|National September 11 Memorial & Museum||44012||65524||21512||48.88%|
|Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh||4126||4563||437||10.59%|
|Henry Morrison Flagler Museum||1002||1107||105||10.48%|
|New York City Fire Museum||1303||1380||77||5.91%|
|Natural History Museum, London||79,185||83,064||3,879||4.90%|
|United States Holocaust Memorial Museum||68,324||71,028||2,704||3.96%|
|Asian Art Museum||62,550||65,211||2,661||4.25%|
|The Walters Art Museum||52,476||54,904||2,428||4.63%|
|Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History||52,838||55,225||2,387||4.52%|
|American Museum of Natural History||55,382||57,740||2,358||4.26%|
|The Jewish Museum||48,886||51,141||2,255||4.61%|
|American Latino Museum||56,910||59,091||2,181||3.83%|
|de Young Museum||54,228||56,295||2,067||3.81%|
|South Florida Museum||2,610||2,876||266||10.19%|
|The Wren’s Nest||1,165||1,253||88||7.55%|
|Museum of Nature & Science||1,108||1,175||67||6.05%|
|Sweeney Art Gallery||1,741||1,838||97||5.57%|
|Art Center Gallery||1,244||1,306||62||4.98%|
|Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum||1,499||1,641||142||9.47%|
Not much usually changes among the “big movers”—the top 13 museums on Twitter and top 5 on Facebook—but this week the Tate overtook the Guggenheim to become the new #3 in Twitter followers. Congratulations Tate. Their recently published Social Media Stategy is worth reading as a good example.
The usual suspects populate the big movers on Twitter and Facebook with one exception. It’s not surprising that National September 11 Memorial & Museum should make the list this week. Their 170% increase in Facebook fans far eclipses Saatchi, who has been the sole big mover for the last few weeks.
The New Orleans Museum of Art makes it first appearance this week. Almost all their new Facebook fans came on September 7, so we can probably ascribe it to their hosting an annual free event, Culture Collision.
The British Library is maybe a couple of weeks away from passing 200,000 and joining the big leagues.
|American Latino Museum||50,677||53,508||2,831||5.59%|
|Natural History Museum, London||72,934||75,716||2,782||3.81%|
|Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History||48,277||50,629||2,352||4.87%|
|The British Library||194,120||196,419||2,299||1.18%|
|United States Holocaust Memorial Museum||63,412||65,644||2,232||3.52%|
|Asian Art Museum||57,714||59,896||2,182||3.78%|
|American Museum of Natural History||50,931||53,066||2,135||4.19%|
|de Young Museum||50,131||52,080||1,949||3.89%|
|The Walters Art Museum||48,353||50,217||1,864||3.85%|
|The Jewish Museum||44,969||46,831||1,862||4.14%|
|National September 11 Memorial & Museum||7,347||8,432||1,085||14.77%|
|Curbs and Stoops||2,064||2,290||226||10.95%|
|Moscow Museum of Modern Art||3,888||4,189||301||7.74%|
|독립기념관 (The Independence Hall of Korea)||7,255||7,696||441||6.08%|
|National September 11 Memorial & Museum||10,824||29,280||18,456||170.51%|
|Central Park Zoo||3,110||3,993||883||28.39%|
|National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum||25,476||28,945||3,469||13.62%|
|National Museum of American History||16,673||18,107||1,434||8.60%|
|The New Orleans Museum of Art||6,269||6,647||378||6.03%|
Well, I’ve been watching this with some anxiety for the past couple of months and not saying anything in the hopes it wouldn’t happen. After patiently, relentlessly chipping away at our lead, on September 7 the Tate has passed my own Guggenheim in number of Twitter followers. That day they ended with 440,852 to our 440,828. It’s almost like it was on purpose.
It’s hard to be too upset. Back in May the Tate’s Jesse Ringham and Selina Jones spoke about what they were doing at an ArtsTech meetup. They gave a fascinating presentation and it was really nice to meet them. So, congratulations.
Not bad for a museum with all it’s branches in the same country.
Summer’s coming to a close and Curbs and Stoops tops out the list of biggest percentage gains on Twitter (a good reason to make trip out to Bushwick?). Saatchi is still the only big mover on Facebook, but people (Americans at least) are turning to 9/11, baseball and Gettysburg.
|Natural History Museum, London||69,327||72,056||2,729||3.94%|
|American Latino Museum||48,097||50,677||2,580||5.36%|
|The British Library||191,010||193,293||2,283||1.20%|
|Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History||46,252||48,277||2,025||4.38%|
|Asian Art Museum||55,140||57,142||2,002||3.63%|
|United States Holocaust Memorial Museum||60,630||62,596||1,966||3.24%|
|American Museum of Natural History||48,604||50,401||1,797||3.70%|
|The Jewish Museum||42,874||44,555||1,681||3.92%|
|The Walters Art Museum||46,095||47,775||1,680||3.64%|
|de Young Museum||48,037||49,593||1,556||3.24%|
|Curbs and Stoops||1,786||2,064||278||15.57%|
|Monroe Gallery of Photography||1,730||1,864||134||7.75%|
|Tribute WTC Visitor Center||1,139||1,223||84||7.37%|
|Moscow Museum of Modern Art||3,635||3,888||253||6.96%|
|The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust||2,625||2,805||180||6.86%|
|M Shed Bristol||1,036||1,104||68||6.56%|
|National September 11 Memorial & Museum||6,819||7,255||436||6.39%|
|National September 11 Memorial & Museum||8545||10378||1833||21.45%|
|National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum||21951||24910||2959||13.48%|
|Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center||4325||4732||407||9.41%|
|National Museums Scotland||6559||7080||521||7.94%|
|Auckland Art Gallery||2150||2293||143||6.65%|
Graphs for the month of August:
For an explanation of these charts see New Methodology
In August, Saatchi added 49,126 new fans for a 72% increase. As we’ve seen before they’re the only museum or gallery breaking away from pack on Facebook and qualifying as a big mover. A further five stand out as over-achievers with Red Star Line leading the way. Their “Do You Know This Girl” contest was clearly popular and helped double their fans in one month. Not bad for a museum that isn’t open yet.
|Red Star Line | People on the Move||1,183||3,492||2,309||195.18%|
|National Museums Scotland||4,072||6,942||2,870||70.48%|
|National September 11 Memorial & Museum||5,630||9,173||3,543||62.93%|
On Twitter, the British Library is getting closer and closer to the 200,000 followers mark. The rest of the big movers has been a fairly consistent list.
|Natural History Museum, London||52,216||70,129||17,913||34.31%|
|The British Library||177,214||191,762||14,548||8.21%|
|American Latino Museum||35,794||49,263||13,469||37.63%|
|United States Holocaust Memorial Museum||48,798||61,837||13,039||26.72%|
|Asian Art Museum||43,602||55,774||12,172||27.92%|
|American Museum of Natural History||37,530||49,133||11,603||30.92%|
|The Walters Art Museum||35,320||46,574||11,254||31.86%|
|de Young Museum||37,461||48,537||11,076||29.57%|
|The Jewish Museum||32,501||43,352||10,851||33.39%|
|Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History||36,605||47,247||10,642||29.07%|
As for the over-achievers, all of whom had increases greater than 20%, Monroe Gallery of Photography came out of nowhere in the last few days of August to claim the top spot with a 70% increase in followers, almost all over the weekend of the 26th to the 29th. The last two entries, Pera Muzesi-Museum and Detroit Institute of Arts did not make any weekly list but, slow and steady, put together a good performance for the month.
Interesting that, of the 21 museums with a 20% increase or more, two are in Istanbul: Istanbul Museum of Modern Art and Pera Muzesi-Museum!
|Monroe Gallery of Photography||1,085||1,855||770||70.97%|
|Moscow Museum of Modern Art||2,464||3,759||1,295||52.56%|
|독립기념관 (The Independence Hall of Korea)||5,052||7,207||2,155||42.66%|
|Sweeney Art Gallery||1,143||1,563||420||36.75%|
|Istanbul Modern | Istanbul Museum of Modern Art||16,546||21,643||5,097||30.81%|
|Kelsey Museum of Archaeology||1,913||2,428||515||26.92%|
|Musée du Louvre||3,827||4,703||876||22.89%|
|National September 11 Memorial & Museum||5,625||6,912||1,287||22.88%|
|Detroit Institute of Arts||12,859||15,656||2,797||21.75%|
This is the first weekly update in the new format, so for an explanation of these charts see New Methodology
Nothing too exciting among the Twitter “big leagues” (the top 13), but in this new format we can see how close the British Library is to reaching 200,000 followers. Their just-above-average 1.68% increase wouldn’t have made the previous lists, but even at that rate they’ll reach 200,000 in 4 weeks. Once they do, we’ll add them to the big leagues. The rest of the big movers are filled out by the usual suspects from previous weeks led, in terms of percentages, by the MIT Museum, AMNH, and the American Latino Museum
|Natural History Museum, London||64,804||68,511||3,707||5.72%|
|The British Library||187,177||190,327||3,150||1.68%|
|American Latino Museum||45,335||48,097||2,762||6.09%|
|American Museum of Natural History||45,467||48,017||2,550||5.61%|
|The Walters Art Museum||43,233||45,681||2,448||5.66%|
|Asian Art Museum||52,217||54,585||2,368||4.53%|
|The Jewish Museum||40,032||42,319||2,287||5.71%|
|de Young Museum||45,414||47,641||2,227||4.90%|
|Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History||44,181||46,252||2,071||4.69%|
|United States Holocaust Memorial Museum||57,917||59,941||2,024||3.49%|
Saatchi was the only big mover on Facebook, adding 24,663 fans (30.8%) putting them past 100,000 total.
The standout among the Twitter “Over-achievers,” making their first appearance here, is The Monroe Gallery of Photography. Not sure of the reason for their sudden jump.
|Monroe Gallery of Photography||1142||1730||588||51.49%|
|Kelsey Museum of Archaeology||2136||2371||235||11.00%|
|Sweeney Art Gallery||1375||1499||124||9.02%|
|Moscow Museum of Modern Art||3349||3635||286||8.54%|
On Facebook we see the National September 11 Memorial & Museum again. As for the Titan Missile Museum (I now have a reason for going to Sahuarita, Arizona), I suspect this recent mention on Gawker is responsible for this week’s new fans
|National September 11 Memorial & Museum||7,232||8,341||1,109||15.33%|
|The Titan Missile Museum||1,028||1,158||130||12.65%|
After making the graphs for “How Many Followers is “A Lot”?” parts one and two, I’ve decided to change the way I make weekly updates. First of all—graphs every week! Second, I’m going to pick out three groups: the “Big leagues,” “Big movers,” and “Over-achievers.” I’m not completely happy with these names so I’m open to suggestions for better ones.
As the “How many followers” graphs showed, Facebook and Twitter each have a group of institutions with many more followers than the others and that gain more new followers each week than most institutions have in total. There are more of these on Twitter (13) than on Facebook (5) with only 4 being in both: MoMA, the Met, the Guggenheim, and the Tate. Full listing with figures for the week ending 8/20 are at the bottom of this post
This group is fairly static, so I won’t be saying anything about it unless there’s something interesting to point out.
This is the most interesting group. They have gained as many or new followers as most of the big leagues though but that gain is much larger as a percentage of the whole. Looking at the data from last week, they are in blue (click to enlarge):
|Natural History Museum, London||60,667||64,804||4,137||6.82%|
|The British Library||183,870||187,177||3,307||1.80%|
|American Latino Museum||42,130||45,335||3,205||7.61%|
|United States Holocaust Memorial Museum||54,453||57,299||2,846||5.23%|
|American Museum of Natural History||42,720||45,467||2,747||6.43%|
|Asian Art Museum||49,526||52,217||2,691||5.43%|
|de Young Museum||43,048||45,414||2,366||5.50%|
|The Jewish Museum||37,727||40,032||2,305||6.11%|
|The Walters Art Museum||40,969||43,233||2,264||5.53%|
|Victoria and Albert Museum||62,210||64,399||2,189||3.52%|
|Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History||41,837||43,650||1,813||4.33%|
With the 1.2% average increase marked by the red line, it is very easy to see how these “big movers” are far above the average while the “big leagues” lie right along it. The Natural History Museum, London’s 4,137 new followers are roughly equal to the Design Museum’s 4,756, but they represent an almost 7% increase compared to 1.21% for the Design Museum.
With 187,177 followers, the British Library is very close to the big leagues, but I just can’t quite put them in that group until they pass (the arbitrary number of) 200,000 followers. They should be there in about a month. Let’s watch.
This group is made up of institutions with small followerships, but very large increases. They are hard to spot unless you look at graph by percentage increase (note that the scale of the x-axis in this graph is logarithmic):
These are the institutions with the greatest percentage increases, and though the numbers aren’t very dramatic in this graph this group can show increases of 50%, 100% or more in a single week. Enough weeks like that will put you in the big movers, and enough weeks as a big mover will put you in the big leagues.
|Tribute WTC Visitor Center||1,000||1,093||93||9.30%|
|Moscow Museum of Modern Art||3,067||3,349||282||9.19%|
|Istanbul Modern | Istanbul Museum of Modern Art||18,731||19,992||1,261||6.73%|
If you look back at the previous weekly update you’ll see that the Twitter top 10 is a combination of “big movers” and “over-achievers.” I didn’t seem quite right for Tribute WTC Visitor Center to be in the #1 spot with only 93 new followers, so I hope this new method will provide better context for the numbers.
|MoMA The Museum of Modern Art||681,216||688,636||7,420||1.09%|
|Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum||422,954||427,989||5,035||1.19%|
|The Andy Warhol Museum||341,582||345,047||3,465||1.01%|
|The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York||335,734||340,015||4,281||1.28%|
|The Getty Museum, Los Angeles||290,765||294,402||3,637||1.25%|
|Whitney Museum of American Art||260,538||263,505||2,967||1.14%|
|SFMOMA (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art)||260,770||263,437||2,667||1.02%|
|Walker Art Center||240,381||242,253||1,872||0.78%|
|LACMA Los Angeles County Museum of Art||227,320||229,913||2,593||1.14%|
|MoMA The Museum of Modern Art||827,382||832,485||5,103||0.62%|
|The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York||542,001||544,661||2,660||0.49%|
|Musée du Louvre||383,993||385,988||1,995||0.52%|
|Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum||289,155||290,101||946||0.33%|
So, here is the July data for Facebook.
(I am aware of the typo in the second graph but I don’t have time to remake it!)
Overall, Facebook is a quieter country with slower growth. The average increase in the number of fans is 4.4% (compared to 6.9% for Twitter), and there are fewer than half as many “Big League” institutions:
|MoMA The Museum of Modern Art||818,864||20,597||2.58|
|The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York||536,880||14,594||2.79|
|Musée du Louvre||376,566||15,181||4.2|
|Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum||286,145||9,164||3.31|
In absolute numbers, only Saatchi stands out as a “Big Mover,” though when you look at the growth as a percentage you can see the magnitude of the increase at National Museums Scotland thanks to all the attention surrounding their reopening, even though their fandom is comparatively small.
The back-of-the-envelope conclusion is that Twitter is a bit more active which I didn’t expect for the simple reason that many more people use Facebook than Twitter (750M+ vs. 200M+, ignoring the question of how many users are actually active). In what sense is Twitter “more active?” At least in the sense that people are more willing to click the button to start following a museum. In July, the top 5 museums of Twitter gained 148,099 followers, while the top 5 on Facebook gained less than half that, 70,660. The obvious question is how closely this is tied to the growth of the social networks themselves since Twitter is currently grwoing faster than Facebook. Other questions:
What’s your experience? Do you detect a similar inertia among Facebook followers. Do you find Twitter followers more energetic, or more ephemeral?