MCNx London
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MCNx London

What does it meme?

When social media becomes part of the museum collection.

Oprah meme made using

Why should a museum collect social media?

‘y tho’ meme using Pope Leo X (After Raphael) by Fernando Botero, 1964
Ed Milliband GIF
Quote tweet by moviehistories of the xnulz Taylor Swfit tweet

The broad categories of social media objects I am interested in include:

- Memes

Classical art meme (using Vertumnus by Guiseppe Arcimboldo, 1590–91)

- GIFs

Aeroplane GIF (1987), believed to be the first of its kind
High-five cat GIF

- Social digital photography

Term taken from the exciting Collecting Social Photo research project

Family outing ‘groupie’ courtesy of Jessica Rees AND tweet from arranjrees of Darwin’s pet octopus in the Natural History Museum collection

- Individual social media posts

Running Through A Field of Wheat Facebook Event
Hillary Clinton quote tweet of Donald Trump

‘destroying the most amount of history in the shortest amount of time… in known memory. Millions of files, user accounts, all gone.’

Is it not the responsibility of the museum to collect this material?
Interpret the history of how we live our lives today and save some of our contemporary lives for future generations?

Lets say we’re going to start collecting social media objects in museums from now on. How do we do it?

Do our existing standards support it? Do the organisational structures of museums allow this to happen easily?

A ‘one does not simply’ meme inspired by ‘one does not simply walk into Mordor’ from the Lord of the Rings trilogy made using
Doge meme made using

Don’t fret — it isn’t all bad news.

There is some promising work going on in our museums. The following examples show where social media has been used in a variety of different ways — almost as if it could be part of the collection itself…

Amalia Ulman, Excellences & Perfections (Instagram Update, 1st June 2014), 2014 (Credit: Amalia Ulman/Arcadia Missa)



All the #museweb and #musetech thinking from MCNx London, 19th February 2018

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Arran Rees

Museums, popular culture & travelling. Did a PhD in museums, digital collecting and memes, & now work on project with the Science Museum & University of Leeds.