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Thursday, June 22, 2006

The First Local Museum Blog

Posted by on June 22 at 17:40 PM

As far as I can tell, neither the Seattle Art Museum, the Henry Art Gallery, the Tacoma Art Museum, nor the Frye Art Museum has a blog. But the Museum of Glass does. It’s brand new — the museum just launched it, along with a redesign of its web site that I discovered earlier today — two days ago, according to a museum spokeswoman.

Museum blogs can be great (that’s a link to the Walker Art Center’s). Other museums with blogs include the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts/Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, which is a bit sleepy, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, which has great staffer posts about the building’s renovations and behind-the-scenes peeks at the galleries as they prepare to open in a week. Seattle Art Museum, are you listening? (Actually, I just called SAM and a spokeswoman said the museum is looking into it. SAM could certainly use one, with all it has got going on.)

Tacoma is a haven of innovation. The Tacoma Art Museum is the only museum in the Northwest that has begun offering cell-phone tours with exhibitions, joining a small group of innovators in cities including Los Angeles, Berkeley, and Minneapolis. These are less of a slam-dunk than blogs, to my mind, since I continue to have mixed feelings about audio in the galleries, period. I do like podcasts, though, where you can download the information and listen to it whenever you want. The Museum of Glass will introduce its first podcast this summer, with the Joyce Scott exhibition, and Scott will also join the blog conversations. (I haven’t tried the cell-phone tour at TAM myself. Blogger CultureGrrl tried one recently at the Walker and has her own rants and raves about it.)

One other curious little tidbit about the new Museum of Glass web site: nowhere on it, unless you scroll three layers into the site to the museum’s mission statement, is there any mention of the museum’s long-ridiculed subtitle, “International Center for Contemporary Art.” When the museum first opened and for most of inaugural director Josi Callan’s tenure, everyone was instructed never to refer to the museum simply as the Museum of Glass. We were always to attach International Center of Contemporary Art, a term that confused some people (wait, I thought this was glass) and made others scoff (international in Tacoma?). Me, I just resented the carpal tunnel it induced, and complained about the way the museum often didn’t make the links in its galleries between what came before the colon and what came after the colon in Museum of Glass: International Center for Contemporary Art.

Museum spokeswoman Julie Pisto today said the lack of the subtitle on the web site doesn’t indicate anything about the museum’s direction or programming under new director Timothy Close. It doesn’t indicate anything at all, actually, she said. It’s just practical.

Nobody is going to say all of that,” Pisto told me.

Too bad Pisto wasn’t in the room when they made up the name, huh?

CommentsRSS icon

Jen, thanks for the kudos on the blog.

If you're interested, a couple months ago, media firm Ideum complied a list of museum blogs:

And thanks for your kind words about Eye Level. If you can't have a SAM blog, at least you know you've got your SAAM blog (Smithsonian American Art Museum, that is). ;-)

Nice new website Justin, the glass museum is where it is happening. Long live Third Thursday!

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