See part 1 of this series for Pinterest basics.
While Pinterest has gotten plenty of buzz lately, it’s still relatively new in the consciousness of the vast majority of people. The majority of museums aren’t there, at least not yet.
But there are a decent selection of museums using the site, and from them we can categorize museum usage in several broad categories, as well as a few more unique projects.
Probably the most obvious usage is to share artifacts. See the Columbus Museum of Art or the Indianapolis Museum of Art for examples. Closely related to this would be using Pinterest as a virtual storefront, sharing items that are sold in museum stores. The Field Museum gets a bonus grin from me for including a board dedicated to its Mold-a-Rama offerings alongside its other stores.
Some museums use Pinterest to promote the museum and its grounds as a destination, particularly as a wedding venue. This is particularly in line with the site’s stated purpose — “planning weddings” is the very first suggested usage in Pinterest’s own help files. The Florence Griswold Museum’s “In Our Gardens” board doesn’t explicitly suggest weddings, although a couple of the photos present scenes tailor-made for such an event. The Chicago History Museum does, although many of the pictures come from outside sources, and many of the pictures fill an idea-sharing role, rather than simply being self-promotion.
Children’s museums in particular seem fond of taking a mission-based approach, sharing ideas for craft projects, fun foods, or other activities. The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art offers art, food, clothing, and party ideas based on children’s literature. The Zimmer Children’s Museum has a number of creative play activities for kids, and the Iowa Children’s Museum hits a bunch of different activity-related topics, and the American Museum of Science and Energy offers home science experiments. Suitable for both children and adults, the National Museum of Natural History has a (thus far small) listing of citizen science projects.
The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology takes a curatorial approach: Most if not all of its pins come from other sources, but they’re well-organized by era to form a true online exhibit of fashion history.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is targeting teens with its Pinterest site, and it seems to be looking to use its boards as at least part of an online teen community. Its boards also do a very good job of telling a story about some topic.
Finally, a few museums use their Pinterest site to promote some ancillary museum projects. The Columbus Museum of Art promotes its blogs by pinning images from them, thus creating a link. The National Museum of Natural History does the same with its podcasts, and the UNLV Museum gives a shout-out to Las Vegas landmarks and artists.
Coming next will be a look at Pinterest’s potential. I’ll also be linking to a bunch of resources later on, but this post requires credit to Jenni Fuchs, who has created and maintains a Google spreadsheet of museums on Pinterest. While that wasn’t where I started my hunt for museums using the site, it is where I finished it.