In the fall of 2004 the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s (SAAM) Web team proposed creating a blog. The museum had been closed for renovation since January, 2000, and was scheduled to reopen July 2006. Our Web team wanted to connect our on-line content with our museum’s mission and soon-to-be galleries full of art. The goal was to engage our audiences in conversations connecting their American experiences with the artworks in our collection.
A blog would be a very different type of Web offering for SAAM. New content would be produced at an accelerated rate, more than we were used to. Encouraging conversations with our viewers would require constant attention. As each museum office was gearing up for our reopening, there was concern about additional workload. How much time and what resources would this new project take? The Web team believed the benefits of producing a blog outweighed the possible liabilities. We began to develop a project management plan that clearly defined the benefits, roles and responsibilities, subject matter, and workflow. Then we met with key staff and administrators to convey these details. Once the project was approved, we developed a pilot project to refine the scope and time constraints on museum staff.
In the year since we launched Eye Level (http://eyelevel.si.edu) to the public, we have continued to evaluate and expand story ideas, monitor workload issues, and refine our workflow to make it more efficient. Eye Level is a study in process and teamwork.
Keywords: blog, team building, project workflow, viral marketing, marketing, on-line dialogue, Web 2.0