April 30, 2011

How can specialized museums enlarge their audiences?

Catalan Modernism Textiles- Photo: Kippelboy. CC-BY-SA
Two days ago I just visited the Textile Museum and Documentation Centre of Terrassa, were I did a private Backstage Pass with their documentalist. Thanks Silvia! In the 19th century the city played an important role in the industrial revolution, specializing in woollen fabrics, and today there is a major Catalan Modernism legacy as a result of the city's importance at that time. So this museum has a huge collection of more than 40.000 textile pieces, from coptic textiles to XX century suits. To provide ideas and support for design professionals and also to promote and disseminate research, the Centre offers full access to more than 20,000 documents on textiles from all eras and cultures: fabrics, original designs, sample-books, dress and complements, via IMATEX, but people and professionals don't use it as much as they would like.

The museum is located 20 km from Barcelona, ​​and we could say that is not full of visitors. It's not a tourist destination, although I'm sure it would be the paradise for any patchwork designer. Museum workers told me that they make heavy efforts to spread their collections, but it's very difficult to connect with a larger audience.

So...wich is the best way for these types of institutions to spread their assets and their collections? Developing an own website? Wikimedia Commons? Flickr? How can we convince the managers of these specialized museums that opening the access to their collections might be salvation?

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