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Calling the Mayor…

If you’re our mayor on Foursquare, we’ve got a promo running that you should check out.  Not the mayor?  Be sure to check-in at the Brooklyn Museum to see if you can take the crown by out-seating michael d.

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As most of you know, the museum has a presence on several social networks and we never jump in without having a real reason to be there.  So, what makes Foursquare important enough for us to jump in?  As simply as I can put this, Foursquare is about place and identifying yourself through that.  It is a celebration of the visitor—the people who crossed the river, who made it in the door and decided to identify themselves with us…right here at 40.67124,-73.963834.

For those of you who are not mobile obsessed, you might be wondering what in the world I’m writing about. Foursquare is a location aware application that people use on their phones to check-in at various locations throughout major cities all over the world and you earn points, join friends and unlock goodies as you go.  A person with the most check-ins at one place becomes that venue’s mayor.  This may seem strange and a bit silly if you’ve never used it, but I can tell you from personal experience that it’s wildly addictive and fun.

So, what does being on Foursquare mean, exactly?  Well, for us, it means owning how Foursquare works, playing within the existing structure and keeping that interaction as personal as possible. On Foursquare, people leave “tips” at venues they like—little bits of advice so other people know what to expect when they go there.   Many of our staff are essentially local experts, so we’ve queried them to compile tips to the wealth of options that exist in our local neighborhood, Prospect Heights.  So now, as people explore our area, the Brooklyn Museum staff help them along in their journey pointing out the joys of pancakes at Tom’s Restaurant or the killer wine selection at Abigail’s.

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In addition, we’ve taken all those tips from our staff and created a new page on our site for local restaurants. This page is uses the Yelp API to find venues and connect visitors with more than our own selections, creating a community-driven restaurant recommendation page for the local area.  So, no matter if you are on Foursquare or know nothing about it at all—you can view the same information in two different formats.

The tips are an easy start, but there’s more we could do with Foursquare. Venue pages for exhibitions or permanent collections could be established, which means people could check-in at the galleries they visit—American Identities, The Dinner Party, Egypt Reborn, etc—and become the mayor of not just the museum, but of their favorite installation within the greater whole.  You could even make a game out of this.  This is something we are seriously considering, but first we want to take it slow and see what response has been to our presence and then move on and adapt from there.

One thing we’d love to see is a Brooklyn Museum badge that gets unlocked after a certain number of visits.  Badges reward visitors who have come in our doors multiple times and, to me, this is one of the most important things we could do on the site.  The awesome folks who run Foursquare are still considering if that’s something they can pull together for us, but I’m hopeful it could happen one day. In the meantime, I’ll give the Foursquare addicts a preview of what that might look like and tell you to keep checking in, because one day you might get a message that says, “you’ve unlocked the Brooklyn Museum badge.”

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Two possible designs for the Brooklyn Museum Foursquare badge.

So, tips and promos are a start, badges are the dream and there are more than a few other possibilities in between. You can also check out our website where Paul has been working with the Foursquare API to pull together a landing page to show all the current activity. My favorite part of this page is the ability to see all the tips we’ve left in one place and the feature that shows off not only our current mayor, but all of our former mayors as well.  Think of this like one of those walls of mayoral portraits that you see at every city hall!

Update 4/27/10:  The Brooklyn Museum Foursquare badge just went live (thanks, Foursquare!) and badge and badge holders have been integrated into our community page.