By Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell
Today, the FIDM Museum Blog says goodbye to our founding blogger, Rachel Harris, who has moved on to a new position in Seattle. As the Museum’s new Social Media Manager, I’ll be taking over blogging duties as well as the website and Facebook and Twitter feeds (you can also follow us on Instagram). I’ve been a friend of FIDM for many years—participating in Museum events, exhibitions, and research—and I’m looking forward to being the Museum’s online voice. Before getting started, however, I asked Rachel for some advice:
How did the blog begin?
"I proposed the blog in 2009 because the FIDM Museum didn’t have much of an online presence. Having worked with the collection for several years, I knew there were many amazing objects and great stories to share. My colleagues agreed that it was a new way to expand our presence, and the FIDM Museum blog was launched in April 2009. It has been going strong ever since!"
How has it grown over the past six years?
"Because it was an experiment, we started with just the blog. It was still early days for social media, so we gradually joined Facebook, Twitter, and, most recently, Instagram. Adding new platforms was a natural outgrowth of the blog, providing new outlets to promote our collection, exhibitions, and activities."
What were some of your favorite posts?
"There are so many! Each blog post is research-based and I most enjoyed the research that took me in unexpected directions or taught me something new. Sometimes, researching an object would lead to a very specific mention or image of the object in question. These serendipitous finds were always so satisfying. I was surprised to find a mention of this Pierre Cardin down jacket while researching the post. I also love this post, because I was able to write about a complete ensemble. The FIDM Museum has a large collection of hairwork jewelry and it was fascinating to learn more about it."
Gift of Andrea Tice
Which posts have been the most popular with readers?
"The overwhelming crowd favorite was written by Christina Johnson, FIDM Museum’s Associate Curator. It’s a compelling exploration of a 1900 evening gown, including its relationship to the Paris Exhibition of 1900."
Who reads the blog?
"Our readers are deeply interested in fashion history, though their motivations vary. Some readers are interested in specific construction details, while others love the big names of fashion history. Many readers seem inspired by the way our blog posts link fashion to broad cultural trends."
Does the blog have any celebrity followers?
"Our blog has had an unexpected reach! Our post on Charles James’s baby romper inspired his son to leave a comment. Blog posts have also generated interest in FIDM Museum’s collection as a whole. Loan requests have increased since we started the blog, probably because it allows institutions far from Los Angeles (for example the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and Bendigo Art Gallery in Australia) to see what we have to offer. Milliner Stephen Jones follows the Museum on Twitter! We’re also followed by many other museums, including the Bata Shoe Museum. Because of our annual costume design exhibitions, we have a lot of costume designers following our Twitter feed."
When did you leave Los Angeles, and how did you keep the blog current after you left?
"Most readers don’t realize that since it began, the blog was written in Seattle, Washington! I worked for three years at the Museum and then wanted to return to the Seattle area. Curator Kevin Jones and Museum Director Barbara Bundy were game to give my blog proposal a try, even though I was already living back in Seattle. As we all know, the internet offers amazing connectivity. I was able to do most research via my computer, while also visiting local libraries. For object images, I had access to the FIDM Museum collections database."
What have been some unexpected responses to the blog?
"Our curators travel often for research and conferences. On several occasions, they’ve mentioned that new contacts have read our blog. It always made me do a double-take when I heard this—I couldn’t believe that my writing and research reached so many people!"
What’s next for you?
"Writing the FIDM Museum blog and managing the Museum’s social media has been a true privilege! I’ve enjoyed it immensely and look forward to seeing how these platforms will grow and change under new leadership. Currently, I’m currently working at the Seattle Art Museum on a grant-funded project related to SAM’s collection of Japanese art. It’s a big change from researching, writing, and managing social media for the FIDM Museum. It’s great to know that whenever I need a jolt of fashion history, the FIDM Museum blog will be there!"
We're excited to welcome Rachel to the blog's band of loyal readers!