From The MERL to Tesla to the Royal Academy of Arts

To save you the effort, this will be the only thing I’ll say about Tesla: it’s full of intelligent people who’ll change the world, it was an opportunity I couldn’t refuse, and it was the right personal and professional decision to let them find someone else to achieve their vital mission on social media.

Otherwise, this is a little blog about my transition into the Royal Academy of Arts, who gave me a job despite me shafting them the first time around. …

Why did he become a sheep

Imagine: it’s 10pm, you’re in bed watching Game of Thrones, and multi-billionaire Elon Musk changes his profile picture to a sheep.

Your sheep.

It was in response to MIT Technology Review describing the largest plane in the world as an absolute unit.

And when someone then dared him to change his profile picture to the sheep, he did.

And when a follower brought it to our attention, we called him out on it:

The Museum of English Rural Life went viral in April 2018 with the image of an Exmoor Horn Ram, captioned ‘look at this absolute unit’…

I’m not even a Social Media Manager.

I’ve talked in other blogs about what the hell happened with The MERL’s Twitter, what we think works and how we’ve built on previous projects to come up with The MERL’s tone and style.

Because my 2018 has essentially been a year of stupid tweets, this blog is just a collection of my favourites. It was a lot of fun writing them and too much fun talking to followers off the back of them.

And that is at the heart of The MERL Twitter: having fun.

But it depends on your specific context and struggles

A thicc sheep and a chicken in trousers catapulted The Museum of English Rural Life to viral fame on Twitter in 2018. We’ve gone from 9.7K followers to 69K, from thousands to millions of engagements, featured in The Times and the Guardian and were followed by J.K. Rowling.

And we did it all without spending a penny.*

This year’s Museums Association conference in Belfast was on the theme of dissent, and I argued that unless GLAM institutions start treating social media as an engagement tool first rather than a marketing tool then we are dooming ourselves to irrelevance.

I’m not…

Thoughts from Communicating the Museum: Chicago

The theme of Communicating The Museum in Chicago was ‘Dare to be Fun’.

It reminds me of ‘say something funny’. They’re both commands which make you feel impotent, because fun and humour are organic things which cannot be forced.

Instead, fun needs to be a fundamental part of your museum. Once ‘fun’ is legitimised as an outcome it is the justification for filling your main hall with a ball pit, getting Will Ferrell to review your art gallery and tweeting about fat sheep.

Fun and playfulness should be inherent in your institution’s culture. Fix that, and fun will follow.

Being fun

Thoughts from the Cardiff One By One Digital Literacy Lab

Each museum is going to have a reckoning with digital literacy.

Unfortunately, this reckoning will not be in the face of a single violent event which can be tackled decisively. Instead, it will be a slow decline in relevance and sustainability that requires a strategic and thought-through remedy.

If you’re not trained in using your digital catalogue, you are wasting time. If you don’t know how to structure your website properly, you’re driving away your users. If you’re not talking to people online, your competitors are instead. If you can’t use Microsoft Word, you will fail at life.

In a further boost to Reading’s cultural renaissance, the Museum of English Rural Life and Reading Museum will be working together as Museums Partnership Reading until 2022.

The partnership is funded by Arts Council England’s (ACE) National Portfolio Organisation scheme, and will see the two museums using £250,000 per year to improve educational opportunities for young people, host joint exhibitions, provide new online experiences and invest more in volunteering.

The funding is a vote of confidence in Reading as a cultural destination, building on the recent successes of the MERL’s redevelopment in 2016, this year’s reopening of the Reading Abbey…

Full of fun, fire and faff

Our project #digiRDG: Town and Country addressed the question:

what the hell does digital mean?

and, more importantly

oh god what are we doing

In answering both we grappled with diversity, made a lot of mistakes, learned a lot of things and went viral with an absolute unit.

Here is how it all happened, and what we learned:

The context

A simple enough command, with a satisfying pay-off: an Exmoor Horn aged ram, a truly thicc boi.

One day after this tweet and our followers have increased by over 7000, the tweet itself is clocking up 63k likes and it currently sits on 19k retweets.

This is not normal for the Museum of English Rural Life twitter account.

Brother do you have some oats

We’ve always had a collection of livestock portraiture at the MERL (often referred to fondly as fat cow paintings). …

As I stepped out of my house on my first day living in Reading, I found a dead pigeon.


I thought

‘This is Reading’

Adam Koszary

Formerly Programme Manager and Digital Lead for The Museum of English Rural Life and Reading Museum. Now something else.

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