Wednesday 4 June 2008

Henry & Hank

Many moons ago, I did a stint on the front desk at the Adam Art Gallery. I always felt the Gallery was in a bit of a quandary - it sat smack dab in the middle of the student audience, but struggled to get the students through the doors (except for openings, and then they flooded in).

As a result, I'm a real admirer of the Henry Art Gallery at the University of Washington, Seattle. I met two Henry staffers a few months ago, when they presented a demo called "Reaching the Internet Generation using Interactive Web Technologies and NO MONEY". Realising that students are (in-phrase alert) digital natives, Henry staff understood that the web offered a number of ways for them to communicate with their primary audience.

Today, the Henry has a Facebook group and a MySpace page, and share podcasts via Henry Artcasts and iTunes. All these things take time, but only a small amount of financial input.

The Henry also has the very active HankBlog, which includes students who are doing internships at the Henry as writers. I really like the informal tone of writers like Jamey and Kira who report on events and exhibitions inside and outside and unrelated to the Henry. And although the effect is a little lost on a NZ reader, I also love the localness of the blog - I imagine if you were a kinda-interested-in-art-or-film-or-stuff-like-that student, you'd read the blog as a great way of finding out what's going on.

So, my learning from this? Make use of those students on your front desk. Start up a blog, make a digital camera available, lay down some super-simple guidelines, make sure YouTube isn't blocked by the institution's IT department, and set them free.

No comments: