Another exciting use of flickr by a UK museum

First we had (or at least the first I knew about) Tate Britain setting up a flickr group alongside its exhibition How We Are which invited participation and gave prizes. Now we have the V&A Museum setting up a dedicated flickr group and encouraging virtual and offline interaction. Shiny!

Here are the terms of engagement:

Post your photos of the V&A Museum, its galleries, collections, events taking place within the V&A and photos of your visit.

We are happy for you to take photographs in the galleries, including flash photography, but photography is not permitted in special exhibitions or where an object’s label indicates a private loan. We cannot include images of these items in this group and they will be removed.

Including flash!! Good grief.

It’s more than just a gesture towards online social network development (although I’m sure its existence ticks all sorts of management objective boxes). The group page makes made good use of flickr group bling (displays of most interesting photos, stats etc) which give the group page eye- and brain- appeal, and it’s linking to (some) other London museum flickr groups only one of which appears also to be an “official” group set up by the organisation in question.

To encourage online activity the group has initiated monthly challenges. It’s interesting to see how the range and number of submissions has increased from the first in October on the theme of gardens to this month’s on the theme of light.

Even more interestingly on the group’s front page there’s a link to the museum’s upcoming Friday Late event on Crafting Couture. Those pages in turn encourage participants to share their photos on the flickr group with a prominently placed link. Firstly this changing specificity on the group front page indicates, together with the monthly challenges, that there’s going to be a continuity of care devoted by the organisation to the group. Secondly it’s an interesting and effective way to drive digital traffic to foot traffic and vice versa.

I found out about the group’s existence after a polite comment on one of my pictures tagged V&A suggested I might like to join. After I did so I got an equally polite message thanking me for doing so. Both are no doubt automated and part of an awareness-raising campaign but that in itself implies to me a good grasp of the technological side of things. The moderators’ entries and responses on the discussion boards are interesting and timely. It looks like there’s serious thought, resources and effort going into this project.

Yes. I like this. I like this very much. I shall watch with interest as it grows and develops.

3 Replies to “Another exciting use of flickr by a UK museum”

  1. Yes, I see why you prefer it 🙂

    What an interesting job you have to be sure.

    What I want to know is why the British Museum doesn’t seem to be doing anything interesting along these lines. The potential is so massive. The uptake so microscopic.

  2. The BM seems to be on Flickr (

    In general there is still quite a lot of fear among the sector about allowing users (gasp!) to generate content when before these institutions had complete control over their web presences. I blog and present a lot about this fear (see for a few choice examples) and how / why we as a sector should overcome it.

    Probably the best example I’ve seen of museums in this space is the Brooklyn Museum who have a refreshing forward-looking approach – see or They presented at Museums and the Web 2007 and were incredibly well received – see this post for more:

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