Museum Exposure

On 11.11.11 we asked you to help us capture museum activity around the world to create a photographic time capsule. Almost 200 people took part!

At Museum140 we love numbers (as you might have guessed), so we couldn’t let such a date as 11.11.11 pass by without doing something to mark the occasion. We decided to create a photographic time capsule on Flickr to capture a snapshot of museums around the world on this one particular day in time.

We called it Museum Exposure because we liked the play on words: exposure is a term commonly used in photography, the main focus of our project, but by adding the photographs to the time capsule the museums were also being exposed, i.e. presented.

There have been similar photography projects before, but this one was different in that all photographs had to have been taken on that day, i.e. 11th November 2011, so no old photographs were allowed, and there was also a limit to the number of photographs you could contribute (a maximum of, you might have guessed it, 11 photographs). Both individual people, whether they worked in a museum or were just visiting that day, as well as museums themselves were invited to take part. Overall, we had almost 200 participants!

The hashtag for tweeting about the project was #MusExp11.

How you could take part

  1. Join our Museum Exposure Flickr* group at:
  2. Grab your camera on 11th November, head out to your nearest museum (perhaps you even worked in one, in which case you didn’t have far to go^^) and get snapping!
  3. Choose up to a maximum of 11 photographs (or fewer) and upload them to the group.

You didn’t need to upload them the same day, as the group will stay open until the end of the year to give everyone a chance to process their pictures without stressing. So, if in fact you didn’t sign up before but happened to take some museum photos on that day, you can still contribute them.

*If you’ve never used Flickr before, check out our Getting Started on Flickr guide.

We also kindly asked you to remember to respect the photography policies of any museums you are visiting!

Although these FAQs were more relevant on the day, we’re leaving them up here for reference.

Q: I live in a different time zone from you, when do I need to take my photographs?

A: As long as it’s 11.11.11 in the time zone that you are in, you’re fine. If you happen to be travelling across time zones that day, the same applies, i.e. the date in the relevant time zone.

Q: Do I need to upload my photographs on the 11.11.11 too?

A: No, you don’t need to rush to upload them the same day, we’ll keep the group open for a while afterwards to give everyone a fair chance to add their photographs.

Q: I don’t know if I can manage to take 11 photographs. Can I still take part?

A: Absolutely! 11 is only the maximum, so you can contribute as little as just one photograph, if you want. Or any number in between.

Q: Why are you restricting the number of photographs people can contribute? Can’t everyone just add as many as they want to the group?

A: There are plenty of other Flickr museum groups where you can add an infinite number of photographs if you so choose. We wanted to avoid the situation where some really enthusiastic people flood the group with dozens of photographs and those who only add a few get lost in between. And from experience taking part in other projects ourselves, setting a limit always encourages people to think more about what they want to capture.

Q: I won’t be able to get to a museum on 11 November but I already have loads of museum photographs. Can I just add some of those?

A: No, sorry. Again, there are plenty of other Flickr museum groups for that, but in this project we’re creating a time capsule for the 11.11.11 so, of course, all photographs need to be taken on that day ;-)

Q: Do I need to take all my photographs at the same museum?

A: You can take all 11 photographs at one museum, or 1 photograph each at 11 museums. Or anything in between. It’s up to you!

Q: I live near a library which does great exhibitions, but as it’s not a museum, does it count?

A: Absolutely! We’re using ‘museum’ as an umbrella term, but any other galleries, libraries, archives and other cultural or heritage sites and institutions that run exhibitions etc are welcome candidates.

Q: How will you make sure all photographs were taken on 11.11.11 ?

A: Well, Flickr usually tells you when a photograph was uploaded, and of course we’ll be browsing through all the contributions. But we also trust you to only submit eligible photographs :-)

Q: Why have you chosen to do this project on a week day when people are at work? Wouldn’t a weekend have been better?

A: We did think long and hard about this when we originally had the idea, but conversely a weekend would have limited the number of museums who could take part, so it was a bit of a ‘no win’ situation. In the end, we chose the date as a hook, which decided it for us. But there are quite a few museums open late on Fridays that you could visit after work, we’ll be posting a list of some soon.

Q: Aren’t there already enough similar museum photo projects around?

A: What you might not know is that this was our original idea that we were going to launch Museum140 with earlier in the year, but around the time we were about to go live a very similar project was announced. So we launched with Museum Memories Day instead, but we realised that our photo idea was different enough, so instead of scrapping it we decided to park it for another time and wait for the perfect moment.

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