Since Smithsonian branches and other Washington, D.C. museums, zoos, and gardens began posting videos on line in 2007, collective YouTube views have climbed to 14 million, as chronicled in our latest report, Washington D.C. Museums: 2013 Video and Social Media Rankings.
Although the 14 million total is less than the 49 million views racked up by New York museums, don’t forget that two high-profile DC institutions – National Geographic and the Smithsonian – produce significant amounts of programming distributed on their popular cable TV channels, dedicated apps, and snazzy web sites. Even though it has a DC museum space, NatGeo (a joint venture with Fox Cable) has largely abandoned YouTube; however, the 18 individual Smithsonian branches are all still posting their own stuff regardless of the more comprehensive joint venture with Showtime.
Here are some findings from our report on video and social media produced by DC institutions:
As of year-end 2012, the Washington museums having the highest number of total YouTube channel views were the Library of Congress (4.5M), the National Archives (2.1M), and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (1.6M). The top two are information powerhouses with massive collections to push out for public consumption, and the third is right on their heels with an innovative series with curators interpreting interesting items from their collections.
Edison still delivers. It’s interesting that the top ranked DC museum video of all time is Edison Kinetoscopic Record of a Sneeze, Jan. 7, 1894, the earliest surviving copyrighted movie – suggesting that our greatest media innovator is having the last laugh, contributing over 329,000 hits to the number-one ranking by Library of Congress on YouTube. It’s short enough for Fred Ott to be on Vine.
Four museum video channels have surpassed 1 million views. To put the DC numbers in context, if they were merged with the New York museum video rankings, the Library of Congress (4.5M) would rank seventh, just ahead of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Library of Congress would rank eight (2.1M), just ahead of the New York Public Library.
The National Zoo produced Washington’s top-viewed 2012 museum video – Shanthi, the National Zoo’s Musical Elephant, Plays the Harmonica!. Over 290,000 viewers watched this middle-aged mom experiment with a musical instrument in her enclosure and listen to her keeper talk about her performance. Shanthi’s viewership greatly surpassed the numbers generated by the most popular 2011 Washington museum video, the National Portrait Gallery’s Conan O’ Brien as Seen by Artist John Kascht. Surely, Conan would be amused.
The top cultural video was a behind-the-scenes work at the National Archives for the release of the 1940s census. Over 115,000 family historians watched Learn About the 1940s Census, which showed the Archives census team, provided information on how to find your family’s records, and worked in interesting archival footage from the original census.
The Smithsonian American Art Museum produced Washington’s top video about a museum exhibition. Over 28,600 people watched The Art of Video Games: Chris Melissinos, Curator, a brief look into the evolution of the stories, technology, and visualization advances of this mass entertainment medium.
The most active Twitter users are the National Museum of American History, the National Air and Space Museum, and the National Postal Museum. But except for Air and Space, it’s a different set for Facebook followers.
The most active Flickr users are the National Archives, the Library of Congress, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The Archives has organized its photos into creatively themed sets, such as “White House Wednesdays,” “Millinery Monday,” pictures of the 1940s census being taken, and pets of the First Families. The Library of Congress also posts a folder containing “mystery” photos and asks the public to help to identify them.
Enjoy the most popular DC museum video, a musical visit with the National Zoo’s sensation, Shanthi: