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2 minutes to read Posted on Thursday August 22, 2019

Updated on Monday November 6, 2023

portrait of Beth Daley

Beth Daley

Editorial Adviser , Europeana Foundation

portrait of Peter Soemers

Peter Soemers

Information specialist (retired)

Taking over @OpenGLAM – telling Twitter stories with open collections

Today, as part of our digital storytelling series, Peter Soemers, chair of Europeana Communicators (a specialist community of the Europeana Network Association) provides some insights and tips for social media storytelling following his recent 10-day, 150-tweet @OpenGLAM Twitter takeover.

main image
Two Cows in an Open Field
Johan Lundbye
Statens Museum for Kunst

In July, I was invited to do a takeover of the @OpenGLAM Twitter Account. That means that I was allowed to host that account and to send my tweets into the world speaking as @OpenGLAM (usually I’m @PSoemers). 

‘OpenGLAM’ stands for “Opening up Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums”. Their Twitter ‘bio’  states that they are a ‘Global network helping Galleries, Libraries, Archives & Museums open their data & content. Run by @okfn @creativecommons @wikimedia’.

The painting shown above comes from the collection of Statens Museum for Kunst (SMK) in Copenhagen. You can find it in Europeana Collections because SMK released the descriptive keywords (‘metadata’) in an appropriate format AND under the open licence, CC0, which means that there is no copyright on them. On top of that, the museum delivered the image in good quality ➜ OpenGLAM at its best!

In the 10 days of my #openglamPS takeover, I wanted to give people something helpful, inspirational  or simply fun, for their professional or their daily lives. In order to enable quick and permanent access to all tweets during my takeover I used the hashtag #openglamPS. I learned this ‘trick’ from Neal Stimler.

What did I tweet about?

I wanted my Twitter takeover to tell the story of the importance of open cultural heritage - what I love about it and why I think it’s important. Here are some of the things I tweeted about.

  • I posted artworks with cows

  • I posted my personal pictures from exhibition ‘Medieval Gardens@RM_Oudheden and linked to related images in #OpenGLAM Collections, in this way expanding the exhibition in the digital world

  • I made statements about #OpenGLAM as an attitude and a way of life

  • I recalled the moral obligations and potential societal impact GLAMs are having

  • I presented examples of GLAMs partnering with creative industries

  • I presented examples of GLAMs facilitating use and reuse of online collections

  • I investigated whether ‘ordinary people’ are interested in open collections and artworks online – yes, they are!

  • I presented examples of personal initiatives of ‘ordinary people’ creating great things on the web

  • I paid attention to @Europeanaeu as a source, facilitator and online exhibitor

  • I paid attention to @Wikimedia and @CreativeCommons, but not as much as I wanted ☹

  • I didn’t mention things like hackathons using #OpenGLAM materials ➜ unforgivable! ☹☹

In the month of June, Laurits Andersen Ring, 1899,  Collection National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo, PD (and PD-US-expired)
In the month of June
Laurits Andersen Ring
Collection National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design
In the month of June, Laurits Andersen Ring, 1899, Collection National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo, PD (and PD-US-expired)

So, what did I learn? 

I discovered that people like cows and 3D. 

I used the cow painting in my opening tweet.  According to metrics like the amount of retweets, likes, impressions and engagement, this tweet eventually became the most successful of the whole takeover of about 150 tweets!

And I was pleased to see answers from professionals in response to my tweet about 3D scanning projects as a community thing in Ireland: 


Using social media for storytelling and trying to connect with people is the work of a ‘Sower’. You plant the seeds, you can water them, but you can’t provide the sunshine. To give the tweets a chance to grow, you have to be personal and welcoming. Tell the truth (your personal truth) and give your utmost! If only one seed grows somewhere somehow, it was worth doing it. And what’s wonderful is that maybe something completely different than you expected will start to blossom!

Do you want to hear more about OpenGLAM-in-action? Watch Merete Sanderhoff's TedX-Talk.

The Sower
Laurits Andersen Ring
Statens Museum for Kunst

Join us on Friday 13 September at 10:00 CEST, when Europeana Communicators, a specialist community of the Europeana Network Association, presents a ‘Solve-It Session’ on digital storytelling. This hour-long webinar helps participants promote digital cultural heritage by sharing knowledge, tools and best practices.