Web 2.0 and organisational change: the Australian Museum’s new website

Australian Museum website

By Lynda Kelly

It has long been recognised that choice and control are important facets of learning (Hein, 1998; Paris, 1998) and that learning experiences need to be learner-centred (Dewey, 1938). Recent audience research projects found that audiences want to have more control over their museum learning experiences (Kelly, 2007). Work on museums and controversial subjects found that visitors wanted to not only engage with these topics, but they wanted to make comment and have conversations about them, both with the museum and with other visitors (Kelly, 2006). At the time of these studies the internet was still emerging as a force to be reckoned with ... until the arrival of Web 2.0.

What is Web 2.0?

Web 2.0 (sometimes referred to as social media/social networking) is all about connections, such as through:

  • Sharing content: blogs, wikis, podcasts, vlogs, Twitter
  • Self-publishing content: YouTube, Flickr, blogs, Wikipedia
  • Adding to established content: user-tagging, Wikipedia
  • Discussing issues: forums, blogs, chat
  • Tailoring information: RSS feeds, email alerts
  • Bringing people together: Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, SecondLife, platforms such as ning

Web 2.0 is also “associated with the idea of the Internet as platform” (see the website Short version of key terms in social media and networking for more definitions).

Web 2.0 means that museums will have increasingly complex relationships with their users as it “... puts users and not the organisation at the centre of the equation. This is threatening, but also exciting in that it has the potential to lead to richer content, a more personal experience.’ (Ellis and Kelly, 2007).

The Australian Museum's new website

On Sunday 7 June 2009, the Australian Museum launched its new website. After four long years of planning and preparation we finally have a site that enables staff to manage their own online material and which enables us to engage in two-way interaction and community building. For the past two years we have been actively working on organisational change, using the staff mantra of working 20% differently, not 20% more. We have also been using the Engaging with Social Media in Museums research project to conduct online experiments which resulted in an added benefit of inspiring staff into wanting to engage further in the online world and become proactive – we have been blogging about that project here on Museum 3.0.

I invite you to visit our site, sign up to our community and please give us feedback either via the commenting function or the email form.


[Editor's note: The Western Museums Association's blog WestMuse is open to submissions from all over the world for topics relevant to museums in the western United States.  This author was invited to submit the Australian Museum's brand new web site, because if has some interesting modules where the web 2.0 tools to which she refers are "built right in." Be sure to sign up for "My museum" and give it a test drive.]




we'll spread the word and start kickin' the tires now that you've got it off the lot!

hope to learn a thing or two over here.

thanks for putting this up, Lynda. you are doing amazing work "down under."

Thnx James for your enthusiasm and support.

I'm amazed at what a wonderful group effort this site was. Towards the end the whole Museum got behind us, with the excitement levels building, esp at the Web Writing courses and CMS training (which on reflection was the perfect way to build buy in).

I think the real work begins now and I'm curious and a bit overwhelmed at the amount of work still to do but a great start has been made.

If you can believe it I'll make myself even more annoying at work by nagging everyone to get online and build that into their daily work practices - since I've been doing that for two years now I guess another six months won't hurt!

Congratulations Lynda and thanks for the shout out, re: Engaging with Social Media project!
I agree that the training was a great way of getting buy in just before the launch! I look forward to seeing the site evolve. It looks great and I particularly like that you are advertising the climate change exhibition on the front page. In doing this, the museum comes across as relevant and engaged in contemporary issues!
The 'Visitor Voices' blog is a great addition to the site and it will be a particularly interesting section to watch as the site develops.
The site is ambitious and will require a 'whole of organisation' commitment, particulary over the next six months. To my knowledge, it is one of the very few museum sites which asks for public contribution from its entire staff! One tiny thing! I would have liked to see either images or information about the museum staff in the 'About Us' section.
It will be a truly informative site and will provide endless material for research! Well done to everyone and particularly to you Lynda for driving this project!!

Hi Lynda
Came across your post on Twitter when Holger Nauheimer re-tweeted a ref by Darren Milligan from the Smithsonian.

I work mostly as a consultant in the public sector policy and strategy field. I'm really interested at the moment in how people are using social media as an educational tool. Particularly when the technology is enhancing practice rather than the technology driving practice.

Examples of really good practice are hard to find so congratulations to everyone involved!

Cool, loving the way social media brings us all together.

You might want to join Museum 3.0 Phillip.

Thanks again.

Since this post I have now updated my website.

As part of this I also had to come to grips with how to "close" my old blog and redirect people to my new ones.

Hope that what I posted works without confusing people...

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