Trip Planning: Museums on Twitter

Travel Blog  •  Jenna Schnuer  •  04.15.09 | 9:34 AM ET

Photo by biskuit via Flickr (Creative Commons)

The experiment: ignore various, er, discussions over whether Twitter is good, distracting, or evil and find other ways to use it to enhance future travel experiences and planning. Since I tend to like museums big, small, and flat-out odd, I figured I would see what some U.S. museums are doing with it.

I’ll admit, I didn’t use the most scientific of methods. I searched Twitter for the term “museum” and, click by click by click, signed up for the first couple dozen on the list.

The information started to drip, drab, and, in some cases, flow in. Philadelphia’s Mutter Museum, famous for its jars of medical oddities, was (and I love this!) offering free health screenings (@MutterMuseum); Northport, Alabama’s Kentuck Museum (@KentuckMuseum) wanted you to put its April 24 poetry festival on your calendar; and Baltimore’s Walters Museum (@walters_museum) offered up a behind-the-scenes photo of an intern working on a Roman sarcophagus and an invitation to its college night with “mash-up DJ artists, tours, & more!”

Of course, just like many new users on Twitter, some museums haven’t quite found their voice yet. They’re not at the useful stage. (Seriously, anybody out there who acts as an official poster* for a museum, please please please remember to post about events before they happen, don’t just mock us with “wow! great event!” posts about events of days past. And please don’t post as though you’re the actual physical building typing. It’s overly precious. Besides, buildings can’t type. Oh and…it would be great if, in the bio section, you could tell us who you are—curator? marketing intern? security guard?)

That said, the museums on Twitter experience is, so far, more yay than blah. There’s a good chance I’ll plan some future trips based on the things I’ve learned. I mean, I already knew I loved Chattanooga, Tennessee’s Hunter Museum of American Art (@HunterMuseum) but now I also want to go see the raccoon that lives “on the small ledge below the museum and 80 ft above the water.” I wonder what they’ll end up naming him.

So, follow any museums on Twitter? If so, which ones and why? (Museums checking in—feel free to leave your Twitter name in the comments section so we can all find out what your curators have in store for us.)

*Please note the lack of “words” like twitterer, tweet, and, (shudder) tweeple in this piece. While I refuse to judge the overall Twitter on travel experience, I beg of all of you: stop using these words. They’re horrible. People is a perfectly good word. Tweeple is not.

Jenna Schnuer

Freelancer Jenna Schnuer writes about travel, food, culture, books, and life's quirky bits (and bites) for publications including American Way, National Geographic Traveler, Southern Living, and many others. She also co-writes Flyover America, a site filled with quieter stories from around the U.S. Send Jenna an email or, if you're so inclined, follow her on Twitter.

15 Comments for Trip Planning: Museums on Twitter

Mike Thomas 04.15.09 | 10:33 AM ET

I’ve been following and they seem to interact with some of the most interesting ones like @brooklynmuseum and @smithsonian and for the parents in the group @childrensmuseum

Mike Thomas 04.15.09 | 10:34 AM ET

and never forget that that the Natural History Museum in NYC has a twittering whale: @nathistorywhale

Jenna Schnuer 04.15.09 | 10:52 AM ET

Thanks Mike. And I’ll add more @s later—must go meet a deadline first! (Though this is more fun.)

Jenna Schnuer 04.15.09 | 11:10 AM ET

One thing I should explain before people start grumbling and searching my Twitter posts to see if I’m an offender: I do not have a problem with the word “tweet” when used in a Twitter post. It’s a character count necessity. But off of Twitter? Not so much. OK, back to the museums…

Tiffany 04.15.09 | 11:14 AM ET

Jenna - Thanks for the follow (and the general advice). Check us out @myhistorymuseum, we’re just starting out but hope to add a lot more!

Amy Mannarino 04.15.09 | 2:59 PM ET

Thanks for tweeting about @walters_museum!  I am the manager of public relations who does some of the tweets on the Walters Art Museum site—-I put up the conservation intern photo.  That particular tweet was really popular so I’ll put up more soon.  Hope you’ll make it to Baltimore to check out the museum in the flesh!

Jenna Schnuer 04.15.09 | 3:51 PM ET

Thanks Amy. I look forward to seeing what you all get up to next at the Walters. It’s been fun to follow the museum.

Grizzly Bear Mom 04.16.09 | 9:34 AM ET

How about a racoon naming contest on twitter?  I would submit Hmmm, for Hunter Museum of American Art (@HunterMuseum) but I’m not sure what twitter even is yet.

Rich Dansereau 04.16.09 | 11:20 AM ET

The Hunter Museum in Chattanooga, Tennessee is very nice. From the mix of architectural styles of the buildings to the great collections. It is worth a visit.

A. Smith 04.16.09 | 9:26 PM ET

Inviting you to visit the East Hawaii Cultural Center (EHCC/HMOCA) in Hilo, Hawaii!

We are a nonprofit Hawaiian arts and cultural organization housed in a historic building in downtown Hilo.  Our art exhibitions remain open to the public TOTALLY FREE!  Please do visit us and mahalo (thank you ) for your museum explorations!

erin 04.17.09 | 9:27 AM ET

Thanks for the mention! I’m an educator at the Hunter Museum and the primary tweeter for the museum. I’ve enjoyed the ongoing dialog I’ve had with many of our followers on twitter and think we will have a raccoon naming contest (great idea) - stay tuned!

Many thanks,

Ellen Pryor 04.17.09 | 12:57 PM ET

I was just at the Hunter, not having visited in a number of years.  What a lovely museum!
We at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville are newly on Twitter ( and are having a great time finding ways to use it.  Cafe specials, our music events, lectures, etc.

Kimberly 04.17.09 | 1:52 PM ET

I run the twitter feed for the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum at Washington Univ in St. Louis: @kemperartmuseum. I am loving the community we’re finding on twitter around the world! St. Louis, to the surprise of many, has a very active and vibrant arts scene; learn more:

Jenna Schnuer 04.17.09 | 2:04 PM ET

Thanks to everybody who has posted so far. Feel free to spread word about the growing list with your colleagues in the museum world.

And museum goers, please come back and share stories with us of Twitter posts that inspired museum visits.


Eric 05.28.09 | 2:45 PM ET

Hello Travelers and Vacationers,
I really hate to be “negative” here, but I really do not understand why one would travel to Philadelphia, especially with New York City within 100 miles. Recently, the Philadelphia area saw a very sad case involving a lady who allegedly carried out a fake kidnapping, possibly in an attempt to escape her problems. Anyway, she abandoned her vehicle in Philadelphia. News reports have stated this vehicle was there “a very short time.” We learn from the news casts the vehicle was found with a parking ticket. I have witnessed parking tickets issued blindly quickly in that city. This is just one example of what I see as extremely aggressive behavior by this city to get our money by any means possible. (I DO understand we must be responsible and courteous when leaving our cars in a crowded city.)  As an aside, one who works in Philadelphia must pay a 4% wage tax. (on top of your regular income tax) I have been to Philadelphia many times and just find it to be a particularly violent place, hostile to humans. Select a kind family location this year. Be safe and have a great summer.

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