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The Charleston Museum leans in on social media

#MuseumAtHome

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Charleston Museum's events coordinator Liza Holian may not have any in-person events to coordinate right now, but she's still bringing the museum's content to people by using social media.

"My role right now leans a little more toward the other part of my job, the PR part," she said. "So I'm a lot more involved in creating content on our social media. All of the digital content you see, we produce everything in house, so my role has shifted to finding ways to see what we can do and how we can adapt."

Since late March, Holian has been posting Facebook Live videos each week under the hashtag #MuseumAtHome.

"Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 11 a.m. we have gone live with one of our curators at various places," she said.

The museum has also added new features to their website: "Virtual tours" featuring 3D images of fossils in the collection and an activity-driven blog geared toward young children.

"We've been really excited about it," Holian said about the museum's social media outreach. "We've typically had about 60 people watching the videos live and nearly 2,700 views afterwards, and we've gotten some really great responses. I think it's a great testament to the knowledge of our staff and our collections."

Tune into Charleston Museum's Facebook live on May 14 to hear from curator of historic textiles, Virginia Theerman - RUTA SMITH
  • Ruta Smith
  • Tune into Charleston Museum's Facebook live on May 14 to hear from curator of historic textiles, Virginia Theerman

Holian said more is planned for worldwide Museum Week May 11-17, a worldwide festival for cultural institutions on social media.

"There's a different hashtag for each day with different themes, and I'm going to go live Mon-Thurs. at 11 a.m., with different topics and different curators each day. Then Fri.-Sun. we'll have pre-recorded videos keeping with those themes."

And there are plans underway for in-person visits and events in the future.

"Our director is hoping to open our museum by June 1," she said. "We've secured face shields for all of our frontline staff, and we have tripled all of our maintenance efforts. Our staff are currently in and out of the museum, but their shifts are staggered, and they all have their own offices. It's pretty large, so we're able to keep that social distancing."

The museum's reach spans several properties, including two historic houses, the Heyward-Washington House and the Joseph Manigault House, and the Dill Sanctuary, a wildlife preservation site on James Island.

In the meantime, the museum is working on possible outdoor programs at the Dill Sanctuary and doing a little housekeeping.

"We've taken advantage of the time off to do some building maintenance," Holian said, "and we've had some updates to the galleries. When we do open, we'll have two new temporary exhibits up. One is from our archive collection and we'll also have a new exhibit in our textile gallery."

Even as other businesses and arts-friendly venues have closed permanently around Charleston, Holian said she believes that the museum will persevere.

"I feel very confident that the museum will be able to continue our work, even if it looks a little bit different than it did," she said. "We are 250 years old, and the only time we've really been closed is during the Civil War. We've been through a lot, we're a strong institution and a strong organization, and I'm confident that we'll see our way through this."

Check out the Charleston Museum's website for stay home activities and virtual tours at charlestonmuseum.org

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