Should Museums Podcast?

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You’re on the air!

I was listening to a recent episode of Tyler Green’s Modern Art Notes, one of the best art-related podcasts around, in which he interviewed other art podcasters – you can check it out here. This is a break from Green’s usual guests, who are primarily artists and curators. It got me thinking, as you might have guessed from the title of this post. Is it in a museum’s best interests to host a podcast?

The short answer is yes, definitely. Museums have a wealth of information, and relatively narrow channels through which to disseminate that information. Lectures and gallery talks, essays, and catalogs reach a fairly limited audience; they do not have the ease of access that podcasting does. Try reading a catalog while you’re driving home from work – no, wait, don’t do that.

Podcasts need not be structured on the 24-hour news cycle so common in today’s media: new exhibitions and acquisitions are important, but podcasting can dip back into institutional history – an often under explored topic – and informative explanations of just how a museum functions. Interviews with artists and curators are always interesting. Performance pieces could be presented. The expense of podcasting is minor, and sponsorship, within limits (no say over content), could well be arranged. Of course timely discussions are worthwhile also.

For major museums, podcasting seems almost a requirement. Some outside media platforms, whether it be videos on YouTube, a podcast, or blog are important in getting the word out. For smaller museums, podcasting is optional, or could be done on an intermittent basis. One of the joys of the internet is that you can post when the content is ready. If that means a post every day, or one every other month, so be it. Just taping public programs is not enough. It’s important that museums stay current in the ways they can present their collections and programs, even when the art is exclusively of the past.

Get out those laptops and microphones, art institutions! Perhaps you have a staff member on hand who would be right for the job, or someone needs to be hired for the part. The downside is…is there a downside?

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