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Blue Star Families Hits BlogHer, NYC, and the Museum of Modern Art

Text and photos by Stephanie Himel-Nelson

Bloggers examine Pages of Ode à l'Oubli, a cloth book by Louise Bourgeois, installed in  MoMA's Mind and Matter exhibit.

Last week, bloggers from all over the country and beyond gathered in New York for the annual BlogHer convention. So, of course, Blue Star Families (BSF) was there!

This was my third BlogHer. I attended in 2007 and 2008, but I skipped the conference last year to get in a quick romantic vacation with my husband without the kids! (Who can turn that down?) So I was excited to see the panels, see some of my bloggy friends, and meet new bloggers. This year I spoke on a panel on behalf of Blue Star Families---Creating Tangible Social Change: How to Move People to Action. (More on that in another post!) But one of the events I most eagerly anticipated was the Blue Star Museums event planned at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)!

Some great BlogHers were in attendance, including military family members and supporters of the arts and the military. Guests included Kate Marsh Lord from The Shopping Mama, Maggie Christ from Magpie Musings, Cynthia Samuels from Don't Gel Too Soon, Devra Renner of Parentopia, Lisa Douglas from Crazy Adventures in Parenting, and Sarah Butz from MainLine Moms. Sarah's sister Ann Marie from Household 6 Diva participated via Skype from Germany. Rounding out the group was Julie Pippert, BSF's Blue Star Museums program manager and author of Using My Words, and me, Stephanie Himel-Nelson, BSF's communications director and author of Lawyer Mama.

Some future bloggers were in attendance too! Here's MainLine Moms' Sarah Butz with her little one.

First of all, I have to mention that the Museum of Modern Art is one of the best users of social media that I've seen in the world of the arts. They effectively utilize Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, and they even have a MoMA iPhone app with mobile tours and event schedules. (Yes, MoMA, you had me at iPhone app.)

For this group of bloggers and early adopters of all things social media, this was the museum to see. And the chance for a glimpse behind the scenes at what makes the MoMA social media machine move was just as tantalizing as the up close look at some of the MoMA exhibits.

Victor Samra, MoMA's Digital Media Marketing Director and the man behind @MuseumModernArt, started out with a fascinating new media presentation on how MoMA uses social media to interact with museum goers. He shared some of MoMA's most successful social media campaigns, including "Monkey at MoMA," a series of photos done by a museum fan that grew out of the MoMA's group photo pool on Flickr, and "30 Seconds at MoMA," a series of YouTube videos from museum goers and MoMA staff. (Here's my favorite video from the series.)

The visiting bloggers learned about social media at MoMA.

After the social media run down, Rebecca Stokes, MoMA's director of campaign and development communications for the Department of Development and Membership (Whew! That was a mouthful!), led us down to the exhibits for a tour of Mind and Matter: Alternative Abstractions, 1940s to present and Pictures by Women: A History of Photography. We were joined by curators from each of the exhibits for the private tour.

Both of the exhibits were amazing examples of the power and creativity of women. However, I'm a photographer, so the Pictures by Women exhibit immediately grabbed my attention. Watching the progression of women in photography was truly watching the progression of photography since its inception. We had a personal tour as women turned from more traditional portraits to political and social commentary and image manipulation.

In the Mind and Matter exhibit, I found Pages of Ode à l'Oubli, a cloth book by Louise Bourgeois, fascinating. The title means "Ode to Forgetfulness," and the textiles (seen in the photo at the top of this blog post) are from Bourgeouis' trousseau. The textiles were created from the clothing and linens she used and wore throughout her life. If you are what you wear, why not show what you are and what you were in such a tactile art form? As a woman and a mother, I couldn't think of a more fitting example of the merger of art and life.

Thank you to the Museum of Modern Art for supporting military families and participating in the Blue Star Museums program. Special thanks to MoMA's Becky Stokes, Victor Samra, and MoMA's Director of Communications Margaret Doyle for hosting BSF at the museum. We all had a wonderful time and I know I can't wait to go back with my new iPhone MOMA app!

This post originally appeared (in a slightly different form) on the Blue Star Families blog.

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