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Welcome to Digital Underground

Sree Sreenivasan, Chief Digital Officer

Posted: Friday, September 27, 2013

Welcome to Digital Underground

Teens used the mobile app to search for clues in the galleries in the "Murder at the Met" event last year. Photograph by Don Pollard.

«Welcome to Digital Underground, one of many blogs at the Met.

"Blogs at the Met," you say? Perhaps, like many folks, you aren't yet aware of all the awesome digital output of the Museum. My goal in this post as well as in the weeks, months, and years ahead is to share with you all the digital work that goes on at the Met and The Cloisters.»

It's been 21+ days since I joined the Met after 21+ years at Columbia University and the Graduate School of Journalism there. I see this as the latest step in a three-decade, one-way love affair with the world's greatest museum.

The top question I've gotten from people outside the Museum is: "What does a Chief Digital Officer do at a museum?" The title is cropping up across many kinds of institutions and means different things in different places. In my mind, the role is to help connect the physical museum experience with the digital, the in-person with online (I discussed this idea, using different contexts, in a TEDxNYed talk last year).

The Met, with its two million square feet of exhibition space and hundreds of thousands of objects on view at any time, can continue to build a virtuous circle between the physical and digital experiences. More than six million folks physically come to the Met and The Cloisters each year, and we have more than forty million visits (twenty million unique visitors) through various digital initiatives. How can the digital projects encourage more people to plan in-person visits, and how can the physical visit encourage more people to connect with the Met digitally?

I work with a terrific Digital Media team here that explores areas over which I obsess: web, social, mobile, video, email, data, geolocation, digital learning, and much more. There are teams working to ensure the information about the collections across seventeen curatorial departments is accurate and current. The Media Lab explores "ways that new technology can affect the museum experience for our staff and visitors, in our galleries, classrooms and online," as Don Undeen explains in this Digital Underground post.

In future posts, my colleagues and I will share some of the exciting new initiatives we're undertaking, as well as point out some of the pioneering and often fun projects that already exist.

I am convinced that for all the new things we might want to do, the key is to remember that we already have so much great content that can be repurposed, resurfaced, repositioned, and reintroduced to the world.

Welcome to Digital Underground

Screenshots of the Met's photos on Instagram

Please follow MetMuseum on all platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Flickr. And my own, slow exploration of all things Met can be found, in part, at @Sree on Twitter.

I hope you will take this opportunity to explore some of our great resources, including:

82nd & Fifth (One work, one curator, two minutes at a time)
Connections (Met staff members offer personal perspectives on works of art)
Artwork of the Day and our Collections database
Met Media
Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
Apps & Games
Met Around the World

Department(s): Digital


  • Lourdes Sanchez says:

    I'd like to see more of the Met in NYC neighborhoods --physical and digital -- that are traditionally neglected and forgotten by the mainstream. The Met has so much culture and beauty to offer! The question is: Does The Metropolitan Museum of Art want to make it's incredibly beautiful treasures available to ALL?

    Posted: November 17, 2013, 1:07 a.m.

  • Sree Sreenivasan/MetMuseum says:

    Lourdes: Thank you for your note - we'd love to hear your ideas. The Met does, indeed, make great efforts to reach out to a wide range of people in and around NYC and across the world.

    Here are two examples of these efforts:

    1. The Education department hosts more than 215,000 school students in formal programs in the building - not counting all the kids who come with their parents and other family members - more on the department's efforts here - http://www.metmuseum.org/learn - please take a look.

    2. Another major effort is the Multicultural Audience Development Initiative, known as MADI... Quoting from http://www.metmuseum.org/events/programs/multicultural - The goals of The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Multicultural Audience Development Initiative are to increase awareness of the Museum's programs and collections, to create ongoing relationships with the many diverse communities that make up New York, to diversify Museum visitorship and Membership, and to increase participation in Museum activities. We have established a Multicultural Advisory Committee composed of New York's African-American, South Asian, Asian-American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian, LGBT, Muslim, and interfaith cultural leaders and organizations, who meet on a regular basis with Museum staff to pursue these ongoing goals. The Committee articulates a strategy for establishing a mutually beneficial alliance between the local community and Museum whereby interest in the Museum is fostered among the Committee's constituents and the greater community. We achieve these goals through several outreach activities, including:

    Receptions, tours, gallery talks, and lectures that are inspired by the cultural diversity represented in the Museum's collections

    Support for and participation in many cultural and civic events that affect communities in New York and the tristate area

    Collaborations with The Studio Museum in Harlem, El Museo del Barrio, The New York Historical Society, the New York Times Community Affairs Department, Museum of Chinese Art in America, and many other institutions and organizations

    Celebration of annual heritage months

    Through all of these joint ventures we invite guests from participating institutions to discover the breadth of the Museum's collections. Strengthening our efforts through the media is also part of our objective. We are expanding the Initiative to reach community newspapers, radio, and television through advertising, press releases, and media alerts. We are also extending our Internet outreach through the use of social media.

    Hope this helps. All good wishes.

    Sree Sreenivasan | @sree
    Chief Digital Officer, Metropolitan Museum of Art
    Follow @MetMuseum on all platforms | www.metmuseum.org

    Posted: November 21, 2013, 11:55 a.m.

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About the Author

Sree Sreenivasan is the Museum's chief digital officer.

About this Blog

The Digital Department leads the creation, production, presentation, and dissemination of multimedia content to support the viewing and understanding of the Met's collection and exhibitions, both within the galleries and online. This blog discusses a few of the activities of the department, and invites your questions and comments about the Museum's digital initiatives.