After six years of museum blogging, I decided the time has come to quit it. I am happy with all the great memories this blog has given to me. But now it is the time to say goodbye, Fun Museums.
For anyone who somehow finds this site and wants to know what was it purpose and why did it shut down, here are a few takes:
Fun Museums started in 2015 as a hobby museum&travel blog. While I was already working on some professional projects, I wanted to have something on the side for some weekend creativity. However, the over thinker and enthusiast in me wanted more. I started making more and more effort in writing quality content, bringing quality photos, etc. Since the blog didn’t bring money, I was only able to write when I was not too busy with the professional paid work.
Subsequently, I decided to give it a try and make it a professional project, a curiosity platform with guest writers. However, it all proved to be just too time-consuming with very little benefit. I decided not to force myself and my guest writers to work for free. It was a lot of hard work for so little number of views and therefore it was impossible to make any money from that.
Now I will not return to hobby museum blogging simply because the concept got spent and it is the time to move on.
Could’ve I tried to make it work?
I tried, several times. There are several reasons why I was unable to make it work.
First, every online project requires views and brand awareness. To achieve that I needed 1) a huge support from people around me in terms of shares, likes, and other engagements that trigger algorithms to push my content higher to more users, 2) a huge support from the professional community – museum and museum professionals, also in terms of shares, and 3) financial ability to advertise the initiatives such as Friends of Fun Museums, giveaways, quizzes, etc.
I had none of these 3 things.
Let me explain. In order to get a genuine support on social media from family, friends, and other people I know well, they all need to be active on social media and have very passionate characters themselves there. My most loved ones are either not on social media at all or they are fairly inactive there. It is fine, and I should not expect any of them to do what is uncomfortable to them. Additionally, I am also a low-key person and I don’t like to spam people’s inboxes with “please read my newest article” stuff.
Since algorithms of social media are so punishing to posts that don’t get a lot of engagement immediately after posting, most people who could be interested in reading these articles are not reached, even if they follow the profiles. Finally, the content went unnoticed by the most passionate followers or people who care for me and my activities.
Second, museums and professional circles never really collaborated. It is a complex topic, and I never wanted to put blame on any individual human being for that. After all, a museum is not a single person, but a collective. My articles contain a lot of dynamism, little academic rigor, and museum professionals often don’t see themselves in these articles even if they work in the museum I wrote about. They don’t see their work and institution as “fun”, and sharing my articles on their social media is seen as a potential damage to their reputation.
Since I worked professionally in heritage interpretation, I know that many of them have too much pressure to satisfy their peers rather than visitors (again, I am not saying it is their fault!). As a result, they correct my informal sentences and pressure me to include academic vocabulary even if I insist on a clear and inclusive/accessible language instead of an academic one.
Yes, I care for inclusion and accessibility. Here comes the next topic. For me inclusion is all about accessibility and treating human beings equally regardless of their background/characteristics. My choice to write in English for global audiences instead of keeping myself limited to my language zone (Croatia & other ex-Yugoslav republics) saw me facing the (contemporary) culture of English-speaking countries. I developed a nice community of 1400+ Twitter followers, most of them from UK and USA, but it didn’t help. My inclusion goals were unclear to them due to simple cultural differences.
For instance, I don’t feel comfortable introducing myself as she/her. I understand why people do it and recommend it, but I am not a native English speaker, and in order to do it I would have to force myself to do something slightly awkward – and guess what – most of these “inclusion professionals” end up non-inclusive. In fact, it is close to impossible to make a global cultural platform without heavily adapting to one specific culture – American. I appreciate the efforts American (and British) professionals are making, but other parts of the world have their own different ways and there is no “one size fits all” approach.
On the other hand, in non-English speaking countries most people, from professionals to visitors don’t care enough about the content that is not in their own native language. For the international travel purposes, it is too difficult to make it popular/successful due to a lack of efficient teams for culture travel development. I say “efficient”, because in fact there are many initiatives for “culture and heritage travel” but they generally work only for a minimum amount of “clear goals”, that are again usually set only for their peers.
Frameworks are essential
Meanwhile, the market (travel agencies, hotels, etc.) has some completely different needs, and I will try to address them in my next career steps.
I said many times that I don’t like frameworks, but the museum and culture professions work ONLY through the frameworks. Fun Museums never belonged to any (for as hard as I tried to make it belong), so I understood that I had to move on.
Finally, I don’t have the money to advertise, but after all, it would be a waste of money, due to these reasons explained above.
Slow travel and sustainability
Aside from the accessible language, humane approach to museums, and pure fun and art of discovery, I wanted to promote the idea of traveling slowly. Again, in the world of museums and cultural institutions, everything is about frameworks. Back in 2017 I had an idea of creating a story about a thematic cultural route that would connect a museum in Croatia with one in Italy, with some spots in between, as a travel idea. I was told by the museum director that cultural routes have to be registered on the European institute of cultural routes to be called an “international cultural route”. Again, everything has to belong to some framework.
In this last phase, I invited guest writers, and I got a lot of great ideas and positive energy from them. However, I don’t want them to write articles for free. In fact, I realised that even I am not happy to wake up in the morning and think about an article I have to write, that very few people will see. It is hard to keep yourself motivated when you know that you will post an article, get about 30 views in 7 days, and get 2-3 likes on Facebook and about 20-40 likes on Instagram, without any comments, shares, tags.
So, I will just say, goodbye, Fun Museums. It was lovely while it lasted, and it is time to move on.
Final few words
All the Fun Museums content will be available for anyone interested to read.
The next steps in my creative career are to create illustration art, and to write articles for other, well-established websites.
Finally, I am thankful for all the great moments I had thanks to Fun Museums, and all the great people I met in the process.