MCOM Students Headed to Cleveland for Museums and the Web ’17 Conference

This coming week, Museum Communication students undertaking Independent Study projects in digital and web-based museum technology will be joining program director, Joseph J Gonzales, PhD, in Cleveland, OH for the 21st-annual Museums and the Web conference. Each student is attending to explore specific topics and interests that relate to their academic and professional learning goals. In addition, each one has prepared a specific social media experimentation plan that is connected with her conference experience and learning outcomes. These plans will be executed during and in response to the conference.


Left to right: Wenlu “Lulu” Bao (MCOM ’17), Joseph J Gonzales, PhD (MCOM Director), Elizabeth Clay (MCOM ’18), and Xinyi Fang (MCOM ’18)

You can find the profiles and projects for each student below.

Wenlu “Lulu” Bao is pursuing her M.A. in Museum Communication, making a big career transition from digital marketer to digital curator. She visited 100+ museums in both Eastern and Western nations before realizing her desire to transfer her skills to the museum field. She made the life-changing decision to leave Shanghai to study in the U.S. She was especially inspired by how digital/interactive measurement and data analysis are powerful tools for creating change in the art and culture field.

Lulu is currently interning at the Philadelphia Museum of Art on a database development project in order to gain a better understanding of the museum’s marketing efforts, and their impact on attendance and communications. In addition, she works on the Marketing Committee for the Visitor Experience Group in Philadelphia, focusing enhancing their newly launched website. Lulu agrees with David Walmsley that in order to move forward in our culture, “We must move from numbers keeping score to numbers that drive better actions.” She has also been influenced by the work of data artist Stephanie Evergreen, who focuses on data visualization.

In response to the conference proceedings, Lulu will create content for her LinkedIn, Instagram, and WeChat channels. For LinkedIn, she will post photos, sound bites, and questions based on the panel discussions; interactions with museum-web professionals; and post-conference article about her goals, takeaways, and reflections. For Instagram she plans to post city views, conference settings, and local museum experiences with personal notes and impressions. Finally, she will translate her post-conference article into Chinese and share it with Chinese users through WeChat.

In 2015, Elizabeth Clay, a first-year Museum Communication graduate student, began thinking of how she could combine her professional marketing and communication experience with her advocacy for disability rights and her love of museums and cultural institutions. At the time, she had been working as a writer in the financial sector, and was looking for meaningful work in the museum field.

She is currently researching how institutions incorporate accessible programs and spaces, and, specifically, how these institutions communicate accessibility to the impacted audiences. Through her work, she is learning how technology and digital platforms—such as kiosks with touch screens or descriptive audio tours—can increase a museum’s reach for visitors with special needs. She is also learning how social media can benefit the community through posting information about accessible art and culture experiences in Philadelphia. You can check out how she’s advocating for accessibility on Instagram: @accessibleartphila.

For the conference, Elizabeth will utilize her Instagram and LinkedIn platforms. She will post session photos and questions and answers for sessions and connect with conference professionals through Instagram. Similar to Lulu, she will use LinkedIn to publish a longer format post-conference article that will included her goals, takeaways, and reflections.

Xinyi Fang is a Chinese national focusing on the intersection of cross-cultural communication in the museum field. In China, she studied Public Art and Design in college, focusing on the connections between art and audiences. Her focus in her graduate studies at University of the Arts is exploring how online collections may better serve and engage audiences, particularly through the use of social media platforms, in a rapidly changing web and tech environment.

Her capstone research seeks to investigate the potential for online museums to make exhibitions of ideas and collections more publicly accessible for the purposes of creating greater community impact. Examples may include the ability for younger artists to create and share online exhibitions of their work, or aid an organization with creating an online exhibition that addresses clean water scarcity in a particular region. Xinyi’s premise is that “some ideas may be too small, or needs too urgent” for establishing buildings or creating physical exhibitions. She wonders what role online and social media may play in the future development of museum work.

She will be experimenting with Instagram and Tumblr for the conference. For Instagram she will post “real-time” photos and videos based on her conference experiences and observations. She plans to use Tumblr to publish an article on issues related to online collections access based on what she learns from conference presenters.