Museums and contests on social networks

Recently two museums have utilized social networks for a contest, creating new relationships with their public and improving their image. These are the artistic contest of De Young Museum in San Francisco and the photo contest of Domaine de Chantilly, in France.

Until recently, firms used social networks in a simplistic way. Very often the criteria applied to companies profiles were the same for personal profiles: lack of goals and lack of interest in the results, blind search of new friends, and so on. The reasoning behind this was still me-too and it was not clear what the instrument could do.

But lately the approach has changed. Now the perspective is strategic, there are serious budgets, goals to reach and targets to hit.

It has been found that social networks in Web 2.0 serve mainly to create authentic relationships with people. All the possibilities offered by social networks were explored, moving from a traditional perspective “one-to-many” to a 2.0 “many-to-many”. So doors open for the user-generated-content allowing a real participation of the user to the activities of the enterprise.

This path in social networks field, from a me-too perspective to the 2.0 one, has also been followed by cultural organizations. The following two examples are of two contests with prizes that are based on the these latest principles.

De Young Museum

The De Young Museum is a fine arts museum in san Francisco. Last December its management decided to create an art competition with the theme “I can’t paint people I don’t know” in order to promote the exhibition “David Hockney: A Bigger Exhibition”. The theme comes from a statement by David Hockney, who said he was not able to paint people he didn’t know deeply, so he produces portraits only of his relatives or his inner circle.

The museum created a Facebook application and asked users to create artworks inspired by this theme. These works have been posted in the application and have been rated by the users themselves. Some of the artworks were really nice and the one that received the highest number of votes won a VIP visit to the museum and the exhibition catalog.

Domaine de Chantilly

The Domaine de Chantilly is a beautiful castle near Paris that last summer decided to create a photo contest on Facebook. It asked Its friends to take pictures of the castle and to upload them to its Facebook page with the hashtag #ChantillyDomain. The most voted photo won a guided tour of the hidden parts of the castle and the first nine classified received family passes to the castle.

The experience of De Young Museum has been more successful than the one of Chantilly, because it involved more people and because it has created deeper relationships. But on the other hand the French museum has chosen well: it only asked for a photo and it has distributed 10 prizes. This usually stimulates participation and competitors’ satisfaction.

In both cases, however, the competition has allowed the museums to strengthen the ties with their followers and to improve their image. In fact, the participants asked their friends to vote for them, so museums had many impressions with a very small budget (even with third party endorsement).

When will we see similar experiences in Italy?


Francesco Zanibellato



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s