Initial Reflections on #MusMem

@Museum140: Mummies & dinosaurs, paintings & planes, marriages & bdays, laughing & crying, singing & dancing – thanks to all for an amazing #MusMem day!

Last week, on 17 May, the Twitterverse gathered together to celebrate Museum Memories Day. The idea was simple: people were invited to tweet about their most memorable museum moments with the hashtag #MusMem. All those tweets would then be collected in a MemoryBank (kindly built for the project by @thingsinjars who will blog about it tomorrow). This was the first project for @Museum140 and went very well, including in the run up to the event. Since we launched #MusMem in early April, we counted just over 3,000 tagged tweets, and around half of those were to promote the event – many, many thanks to everyone who helped to spread the word!

The day itself was just as successful, in fact, people kept tweeting their museum memories right through International Museum Day on the 18 May – which is what inspired #MusMem in the first place, with this year’s theme of ‘Museum and Memory’ – and into the weekend. Peak times for tweets were in the mornings UK time on 17 & 18 May, and around lunch UK time and in the afternoon East Coast US time on 17 May. The event trended in twelve countries worldwide, including Australia, Japan, Scotland, England, Ireland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Turkey, South Africa, Canada & the USA, and we also had tweets from other countries that did not show up on the trend map. In total, we had over 1,300 individual twitterers. So, an equally huge thank you to everyone who participated and shared their stories!

Museums and galleries of all kinds from around the world, as well as associated organisations and individual museum professionals, friends and enthusiasts participated. Our top tweeters, who helped to keep the ball rolling, were @CultureThemes @MuseumJoCas @KelvingroveArt @MarDixon @PooleMuseum @artinstitutechi and @Qwoo, and the top RTs came via @smithsonian and @BCJapanArts who were retweeted 52 and 57 times respectively. The museums who received the most @ replies or mentions were @metmuseum @MuseumModernArt @artinstitutechi @smithsonian @vangoghmuseum and @britishmuseum, however, many more museums and galleries were mentioned.

As well as evoking feelings of nostalgia, the many memories reflected how much people loved museums (and galleries, it has to be said, museums was just the umbrella term) and were inspired by them. Recurring themes included mummies, dinosaurs, whales and art; childhood visits with family; first dates, marriage proposals and even weddings; emotional experiences such as laughing, crying, singing and dancing. There were also stories of mishaps or being shouted at, though vast majority of stories were positive. And some people also tweeted photos, which was a great addition. Apart from the obvious (museum, memory), here’s a selection of the most frequently used words:

art   history   mummies   child   brother   dad   date   amazing   awesome   enjoy   happy   love   pleasure   seeing   wonderful

And here is a very small flavour of the many, many stories that were shared:

  • @eomalley9 Visit at age 5 to a Nat.Hist. museum & seeing the dinosaurs.Got a little fossil from the gift shop, carried it around for weeks! #MusMem
  • @clairey_ross 1 of my fav memories is a behind the scenes tour of the Hancock museum when I was 6.Made me fall in love with museums & Natural Hist #MusMem
  • @TanjaNeumann #MusMem My very first visit as a small child when my mother promised that this huge whale at @Senckenberg wasn’t going to swallow me
  • @akhetherington First museum memory is standing in Roman Pottery gallery at ROM at age 10, wondering how the pretty pots could be 2000 years old #MusMem
  • @graeme93 My #musmem has got to be being scared by the mummies in Liverpool Museum in the 1960s. Now as an adult ironically I love Egyptology.
  • @lilyhax My father was an astronomer and we loved to hear his stories at the Smithsonian Air and Space museum in DC. #MusMem
  • @AboutLondon My first #MusMem is going to @NHM_London w/ the school & getting lost. But I spent a lovely day w/ a security guard eating fruit polos.
  • @LucaGal My earliest #MusMem is of being at @metmuseum as a child. I remember wanting to live there. :-) The pictures were so pretty…
  • @WHU65 My dads birthday spent with the Terracotta Army at the @britishmuseum – Priceless #MusMem
  • @danielgoduti My wife and I met for our first “date” @airandspace (I wanted to go to @NMNH but I guess it all worked out ok) #MusMem
  • @Glitterblog Great childhood memories of @hornimanmuseum and gardens, & now lucky enough to be getting married there this year #MusMem
  • @kimbannerman Laying my eyes on the Rosetta stone for the first time, seeing something real that I’d only before seen in books. I <3 history! #MusMem
  • @Scotinform #MusMem The wow factor of Concorde when it arrived National Museum of Flight & feeling that wow factor every time I’ve seen it since then!
  • @angelastgeorge @amhistorymuseum Seeing the American flag that inspired the Star Spangled Banner… priceless! #MusMem
  • @MuseumStuttgart Building up an exhibtion about greek life in Stuttgart while being surrounded by the proud greek cleanings ladies. #MusMem
  • @missnicolerose Seeing a Jackson Pollock in person the first time @artinstitutechi #mindblowing #MusMem
  • @claytonARTSTAR #musmem I cried standing in a room of matisse at baltimore museum of art
  • @PluralDoves I touched a Warhol. Because I didn’t think he’d care #MusMem
  • @Doodleology #MusMem Visiting @MuseumModernArt for the first time and realizing that art can be anything you want it to be.
  • @YvonneBeasley Being present at the birth of the @PostalMuseum and its unofficial motto, “It’s so much cooler than it sounds!” #musmem

Remember, you can read all of the stories in the #MusMem MemoryBank, and we’re also working on an edited version with just the original tweets (i.e. stripping out the RTs) for easier future reference, as well as a fuller analysis of the data. A huge thank you again to everyone for a successful Museum Memories Day! And if you have any further feedback, or suggestions for future events, just tweet@Museum140 or email info[at]museum140[dot]com.

Edit: link to ‘Making the #MusMem MemoryBank’ added, 29 May 2011


(Image credit: screen shot from at 5pm UK time on 17 May)



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