The Museumhive Model: a Primer

We set out to create a model that combines two things: 1) the social engagement of in-person meetups, and 2) the insight from national thought leaders on the topic of museums serving their communities. And from this, we generate content: a series of videos that are annotated and easy to view. In shorthand: Meetup + Hangout = Community Content.

Some of the components in the model:

  • A series of meetups. In our case, six meetups with national thought leaders in the museum field: Nina Simon (museums and relevance), Kimberly Drew (black culture and social media), Beka Economopoulos (museums and action), Elizabeth Merritt (empathy and mass migration), Rob Stein (global thinking), and Emily Graslie (museum vlogs)

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How we set up Google Hangouts for Museumhive

One of the behind the scenes challenges for Museumhive was to make sure our Google Hangouts connected without a hitch at the Museumhive meetup. (The image of fumbling around at the keyboard trying to connect the presenter while and audience is expectantly watching over your shoulder motivated a lot of pre-event testing). And I’m pleased to say that with the exception of a few minor glitches, our Hangouts happened without incident, and are wonderfully archived on Youtube for all to see forever and ever.

Here’s the process I used to set the Hangout up.  (This is as of late summer 2017 — we found that the specific process seems to change a couple times a year as Google evolves the interface. For example, partway through the project, Google Hangouts seemed to evolve into YouTube Live. But with that caveat, this may be helpful to others in any case): Read more

Video: Museumhive Hangout with Emily Graslie

Another great Hangout session with Emily Graslie, a visual artist and Chief Curiosity Correspondent at the Field Museum in Chicago. Emily is the creator and host of the Brain Scoop, and online platform which focuses on science and education. Below we discuss cats, science and advocating for more content creators in museums.


0:00 Introduction + short speech by Dan Yaeger, Brad Larson and Ed Rodley.

3:24 Emily introduces herself, and talks about how she got started with the Brain Scoop.

5:03 Emily talks about advocating for Chief Curiosity Correspondent (content creator) positions at other Museums.

7:07 Emily opens the discussion for questions. Read more

Museumhive Meetup Thursday 7/27 with Emily Graslie: Museums, Vlogs, and The Brain Scoop

Join us for the final Museumhive on July 27! Emily Graslie will be our featured virtual guest. Tickets are available on Eventbrite here.

Emily is Chief Curiosity Correspondent for The Field Museum in Chicago. Emily is the creator, host and writer for the museum’s educational YouTube series, The Brain Scoop. Launched in January 2013, The Brain Scoop aims to share the research and collections work of natural history museums with a broad audience, and across a variety of digital platforms. To date, Emily and her team have created more than 170 videos, which have been viewed 18 million times by passionate learners from all over the world.

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Museumhive Meetup Wednesday 6/28: Rob Stein, Global Thinking for Local Impact

Coming up, our next meetup, with museum strategist and tech leader, Rob Stein. Rob is a longtime innovator and leading blogger in the museum world, and is now Executive VP and Chief Program Officer at the American Association of Museums. Rob will talk about how the collaborative nature of the museum field coupled with the power of networked communities can lead to a global lens on the practice of museums. Come and join us to unpack how museums might use global thinking to drive local impact.

Schedule, Wednesday 6/28: Read more

Video: Museumhive Hangout with Elizabeth Merritt,

Elizabeth Merritt, founding director of the Center for the Future of Museums, spoke with us about how museums can tackle migration, the empathy deficit and what the world might look like in three hundred years. Tune in below!


0:00 Opening remarks and introductions.

4:24 Elizabeth begins by talking about her Trends Report, museums and futurism.

7:04 Elizabeth talks through the five major themes highlighted in the 2017 Trends Report: Empathy, Criminal Justice reform, Artificial Intelligence, Migration, and Failure.

10:48 Elizabeth dives deeper into the topic of empathy. There’s a lot of research that there has been a 48% decline in empathy in America.

12:02 Empathy is like a muscle, there are practices that might be able to cultivate more empathy.

12:33 Elizabeth discusses the traveling exhibit “A Mile in My Shoes.”

13:24 Elizabeth discusses the human library.

14:00 Elizabeth explores empathy as an outcome or goal for museum exhibits.

15:00 Elizabeth moves onto migration, and its motivating factors.

15:45 Elizabeth discusses “climate refugees” in the U.S.

16:37 Technical difficulties!

18:15 Elizabeth discusses the ways museums have been able to help natives understand the cultures of new populations in their countries.

19:00 Elizabeth stresses the importance of community awareness among museum professionals.

21:49 Q&A begins. Question: how did the ‘A Mile in My Shoes’ exhibit accommodate people in wheel chairs?

22:57 Technical difficulties!

24:36 Q: How did you identify that we are in an empathy deficit?

28:12 Follow up — the story of the empathy gap lacks metrics. Is there a way for museums to produce and measure empathy?

32:30 Follow up — Qualitative measurement for wellbeing as it applies to

34:07 Q:Can you talk a bit more about the theme of failure?

41:04 Q: How would you recommend small museums might be able to scale down ambitious concepts?

44:00 Q: Relevance and taking a stand are topics that keep coming up in our conversations here. What do you think about these two issues in the museum context?

48:56 Follow up — We didn’t talk about migration that much in this dialogue. What do you think about museums taking a political stand?

54:43 Q: Can you talk a bit more about futurism?

56:30 Thank you and goodbye!

Museumhive meetup, 5/25: The Future of Museums: Empathy, Refugees, and Mass Migration w/ Elizabeth Merritt

We’re looking forward to our next meetup event featuring a Google Hangout with Elizabeth Merritt, Vice President, Strategic Foresight at the American Alliance of Museum and Founding Director, Center for the Future of Museums.

Larger trends in the world impact museums and their audiences, and the Center for the Future of Museums is at the forefront forecasting those trends in their annual Trendswatch report. Elizabeth will introduce the five trends impacting museums they’ve identified, and explore some of the implications of two of those trends: the growing empathy deficit, and the plight of refugees and others experiencing mass migration of populations.

  • How are museums addressing the “empathy deficit”?
  • How have some communities welcomed refugees as a resource, using immigration to spur economic development and reverse declining populations?
  • What are some simple first steps museums can take to address both of these issues?

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Video: Museumhive Hangout with Beka Economopoulos: Museums and Environmental Action

Had a great Hangout with Beka Economopoulos, co-founder of The Natural History Museum, a popup museum in Brooklyn that is changing perceived boundaries around museums by taking exhibits and programs out on the road and collaborating with organizations. Beka encourages museums to take a position on issues such as environmental change to be more relevant to the communities they serve. “People love museums and want to see them live up to their visions.”


  • 01:00 Powerpoint: The Natural History Museum
  • 03:25 Reconnect to the living universe, past to present
  • 04:20 Re-evaluate role in the midst of profound environmental change
  • 04:35 About The Natural History Museum
  • 06:20 Making science and natural history relevant to people’s daily lives

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Museumhive Meetup, 4/27, Museums and Action w/ Beka Economopoulos

How do museums, art and environmental activism interface? Coming on the heels of Earth Day and the March for Science, our next meetup will feature a Google Hangout with Beka Economopoulos, co-founder of The Natural History Museum, a mobile and pop-up museum based in Brooklyn that focuses on principles of scientific inquiry, and invites visitors to explore the social and political forces that shape nature. Beka will talk about how collaborations with scientists and local communities can make museums more relevant in a time of profound environmental and social change, toward a vision of building a more inclusive and just society.

Beka has two decades of experience working within the advocacy and sustainability sectors, including Director of Online Organizing at Greenpeace, and is a Co-founder of Not An Alternative–a collective that works at the intersection of art, activism and critical theory. Named in The New York Times and ArtNet’s “Best in Art in 2015” round-ups, Not An Alternative has presented work at museums around the world, including Tate Modern, Guggenheim, PS1/MOMA, Queens Museum, Brooklyn Museum, MOCAD, and Museo Del Arte Moderno. Read more

Video: Museumhive Hangout with Kimberly Drew

Another amazing hangout with Kimberly Drew of the MET Museum and Black Contemporary Art.


0:00 Cierra Peters; Introduction to Museumhive

0:33 The MET. blogging and social media – how Kimberly started.

3:53 The Challenges of working with digital media.

7:25 Digital media’s place in museums.

6:53 Initiating Dialogue: reaching the communities museums intend to serve.

12:00 Question from the audience: how can we reach communities when resources are limited? – If there’s an opportunity to reach out to 1-5 community organizers, make space available for others, think creatively about how to use resources.

12:50 Stories from the Studio Museum in Harlem: it’s really easy to forget that people on the outside don’t always know what the Museum is doing. It’s worthwhile to slow down and invite people in.

14:00 Question from Cierra: Can you talk about Black Art Incubator and Black Futures – all of Kimberly’s projects are born from collaboration and others being gracious enough to share their time with her.

15:18 On the Black Art Incubator: how it began, and why community is important in our current political moment.

16:57 On Black Futures: a book project with Jenna Wortham

18:01 Follow up question: What was the process like during Black Art Incubator?

20:59 Question from the audience: What digital art projects are inspiring you? – DM’ing other scholars, people taking selfies at the museum, the infinite ways in which people can engage with the galleries of the museums are inspiring.

23:55 Question from the audience: Does the museum online need to reflect the physical space? It’s more important to illustrate the possibility of visiting and what the museum has to offer. Illustrate the mission.

26:26 Question from the audience: Is changing the museums image through digital disingenuous?

27:39 Museums need to share resources through digital.

28:34 Question from the audience, Christlene De Jean: how do you use your platform to hold space for art and discourse? – A: there is always a way to use what exists in the archive to relate to contemporary conversations.

30:55 Our digital imprint has so much potential for change.

32:00 Question from the audience: Do you have a final statement for the group?

33:20 Thank you and goodbye!