The 12th All India Conference of Heads of Science Museums / Centres known as Director's Conference was held at Birla Museum Pilani during December 7-9, 2012. The conference was inaugurated by Dr SN Joshi Scientist Emeritus CEERI Pilani. Theme of the Conference was on Networking Strategies for Success while the Sub Theme was on Networking with Scientific Institutions, Educational Bodies Voluntary Organizations, Stack Holders etc. There was a Special Session on Generation of New Exhibits and Programmes
The elite gathering hosted by Dr VN Dhaulakhandi Director Birla Museum included Shri GS Rautela DG NCSM, Mr Shrikant Pathak Project Coordinator Nagpur, Mr SM Khened Director VITM Bangalore, Mr AS Manekar Director NSC Mumbai, Mr N Mohan Curator Port Blair, Mr KG Kumar Director HQ NCSM Kolkata, Mr E Islam Director BITM Kolkata, Mr Rama Sharma Director NSC Delhi, Mr Ajit Prakash Director KSSTC Trivandrum, Mr Samendra Kumar Project Coordinator Lucknow, Mr Ankit Bajaj MD Noble Electricals Delhi, Mr Arijit Dutta Director Science City Kolkata, Mr Gulshan Kharbanda MD AKRITI, Mr Subrata Sen MD Creative Museum Designers Kolkata, Dr Iyamperumal Executive Director TNTC Chennai, Mr Subhabrata Chaudhuri Director CRTL Kolkata, Mr Rahul Das Curator Solapur, Mr S Das Curator BITM Kolkata and Prof BR Natarajan President - Sangam University Bhilwara.
Prof Natarjan’s talk on 9 December 2012 which focused on Social Media and Museum Networking gave an entirely different perspective to the conference. Quoting the pioneering efforts of Walker Art Centre, Prof Natarajan emphasized that museum websites should transform from carrying out routine updates to becoming hubs for ideas and publishing platforms which allow museums to pursue their missions by sharing knowledge and inspiration with the public. Since roughly 25% of the time people spend online revolve around social media also referred as social networking or social web such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo, Delicious, Diigo, Foursquare, Klout, Tumblr etc, museums have no option but to resort such services for engaging the masses in the light of museum’s mission. The San Diego Zoo’s Facebook engagement with public at large is an example worth emulating.
Highlighting the top 5 ranked museums in terms of Facebook likes, Twitter Followers and Klout scores, Prof Natarajan pointed out that the Museums in India were virtually invisible in social media circles and that the Birla Museum Pilani Facebook page was born the same very date the conference was being inaugurated.
Prof Natarajan also shared the thoughts of Canada based George Jacob an alumnus of Birla Institute of Technology and Science - BITS Pilani a highly respected name in the International Museum circles who was of the strong opinion that private philanthropy in India is indeed an untapped sector for museums and science centers. George Jacob also urged that the museums offer Education Outreach- where museum programs are extended beyond the physical confines of the museum premise either through classroom projects, traveling exhibits, science camps, field trips or an extended web-enabled, mobile technology-driven continued experience through social media.
Referring to the work of Jasper Visser who is a well known digital strategist [.]jaspervisser Prof Natarajan highlighted the concept of Happy Museum which uses Five Ways to Well-being, namely: Connect, be active, take notice, keep learning and give.
Calling Jim Richardson [.]SumoJim the founder of [.]SumoUK, [.]MuseumNext, and [.]CultureGeek as the acknowledged Social Media – Museum Networking Guru, Prof Natarajan said that he could connect to Jim through social media (Twitter) instantly and conveyed the contents of open letter from Jim to all Museum Directors and highlighted the statement “Museum leaders need to recognize that a powerful website can deliver just as much as a powerful exhibition and fund the roles within the institution to produce something credible online.” To be among the top ranking museums in global arena, Prof Natarajan also conveyed to the conference delegates the special message of Jim which said “If Museums of India today want to carry out their mission with passion, then they must engage social media”.
The conference concluded with DG NCSM summarizing the proceedings along with road forward followed by vote of thanks by Dr VN Dhaulakhandi Director Birla Museum Pilani.
About Sangam University Bhilwara: The Institution supported by Sangam Group of Industries which is one among the top ranking corporates in India today with business interests spanning textiles, steel, infrastructure, power and energy has been established by Govt. of Rajasthan Act No. 14 of 2012 incorporated u/s 2(f) of UGC Act 1956.