Tweetup at the High Museum of Art, ATL

On Thursday, September 1, 2011, Law2sm’s founder, Deborah Gonzalez, participated in a fun-tweetiful event – the High Museum of Art, in Atlanta, GA, hosted a TweetUp. Twitter users were invited to tour the museum for free and share their thoughts about the museum’s exhibits with their followers.

As tweeters “tweeted’ their experience to their followers, their tweets were displayed on a full-length screen in the Museum’s lobby.  Tweeters shared thoughts, photos, and information about the various pieces of art and artifacts throughout the museum complex.  The evening was full of surprises as “Andy Warhol” was on hand to greet the tweeters and promote the upcoming Picasso and Warhol exhibit and certain tweeters won prizes such as museum t-shirts, free admission tickets to return to the museum and other High swag.

Organizers of the event did a lot of things right – they were prepared – including their admissions stickers that participants wore that had the twitter bird and the twitter hashtag for the event #hightweetup prominently displayed.  No one could forget the hashtag and its neon colors had other museum visitors inquiring about what did it mean?

However, as this is a legal blog relating to social media I wanted to focus on another thing the museum organizers did right – as each participant signed in (registration was requested online prior to the event) – they received a printed document entitled “Tweetup Gallery Photo Policies” from the hostesses.  Smartphones and iPads abounded at the Tweetup.  Tweeting pics was to be a big part of the Tweetup, but the museum did have some concerns.

This half sized piece of paper laid out the guidelines relating to photographing inside the museum.  The museum reminded the tweetup participants that it is “bound to certain contracts and restrictions that may not allow for every work of art to be photographed.”  Intellectual property rights, publicity rights, and other legal rights all play a part in protecting and conserving the value of art for today and many generations to come.  Lending works of art between museums is a common occurrence but is based on trust and contractual agreements of what is to be permitted with the art work, how it is to be exhibited, for how long, etc.  Reciprocity is important, and if one museum fails to adhere to the contract, other museums will find out and then not want to lend them their art in the future for security concerns.

The Tweetup Photo Policies laid out in clear, simple English, what exhibits could be photographed during the event, but more importantly, what exhibits could not.  Most museums have a “No Photography” rule – if you like an exhibit more likely than not there is a postcard or catalogue book with the image in it, ready for you to purchase.  If photography is allowed it is usually limited to permanent collections and for private use and viewing – not for commercial activities – so you can’t take a photo, enlarge it to poster size and sell it on your eBay® account.  That’s a big no-no.

The policies also gave participants a contact or contacts – who to ask if you weren’t sure if you could take the photo or not – security officers!  Talk to them, they are not so scary and actually know something about the exhibits – at least the ones we spoke to.  They also had a few funny stories to share about the big silver-plated platter by Anish Kapoor on the third floor.  Born in India in 1954, Anish’s sculptures are meant to be interactive and they invite the viewer to do more than just look.  The platter stands against a wall.  If you stand in front of it, and someone stands on the other side of the room behind you, you can whisper and they would hear what you said.  It is quite eerie but a lot of fun and you need at least two to make it work – it’s invitation to engage make it a great symbol for the tweetup – art to be experienced, to be shared, to be social.

We look forward to the next one.  Stay tuned!

Deborah Gonzalez, founder of Law2sm, tweeting at the High Tweetup; Background image is Leda and the Sawn by Vik Muniz, 2009


DG in front of Anish Kappoor's silver resounding platter, 3rd Floor.

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