Social media is now a part of all our lives, professionally as well as personally. In smaller organisations where one person carries out many roles, the registrar and social media content creator roles may sit with the same person. In larger organisations, registrars will work with the press team to identify behind the scenes images which can be used online. Online engagement is increasingly important as digital analytics allow us to learn a lot about our audience.

Most organisations will have a social media policy as a starting point; however these offer broad guidelines with a lack of specific guidance about some security concerns. Emma and I thought this would make a good topic for discussion, once we had heard from key speakers about the benefits and concerns of social media use in museums and galleries. 

To find some real life examples for the workshop I searched a few social media sites using key phrases. A number of examples were collected and anonymised and you can find these examples in the event materials pages on the UKRG website. (

We split into five groups to discuss the examples. In my group a number of people were very surprised at an image from inside a truck with the sat nav showing location and destination, identified as #couriertrip and identifying the museum posting it. They assumed I had made it up for the workshop (I didn’t!). Another image showed works stacked for collection with the headline ‘first trucks 8am tomorrow’.

When it came to images of courier trips it was agreed that posts in real time which were identifying a posters location and/or destination were a security risk. Indeed, one group thought that the use of the hash tag ‘courier trip’ could be a risk in itself by telling people that you are away and that part of your job is couriering art. A point raised by William Brown in his presentation earlier in the day was that if you are on a courier trip don’t state that on your out of office reply. In one discussion group a representative from the shipping agents said that if couriers were taking images of the vehicles which could identify the truck they would be asked by the drivers to stop and not to post anything.

Another common theme was installations with posts showing showcases open. It was agreed these could be inappropriate. A number of attendees had a lot of experience of ‘mocking up’ installs as required for press photos so that no details such as fixings and/ or case opening mechanisms could be seen and this would be preferable to real time shots.

Installation shots also often featured cases, often with identifying labels. It was agreed that if cases were featured care should be taken to obscure any identifying or transit information. 

There were some posts which were seeking advice from colleagues or commenting on something going wrong. It was felt that sometimes these could look unprofessional in a public sphere and these queries might be better in a closed forum. These were more of a reputation risk than a security risk.

Some of the most captivating images were of large object moves and it was agreed that these were appropriate as long as these were being posted after the fact and that therefore there was no risk to ongoing works by posting. So in summary it’s all about common sense and judgement.. and taking the time to think before you post!

Jacqui Austin,  Lead Registrar (Loans, Touring & Partnership), National Galleries of Scotland