The most popular museum on TikTok
December 13, 2020 11:24 AM   Subscribe

From The Guardian: The Black Country Living Museum is an open-air attraction that tells the story of Britain’s early manufacturing history, set in the defiantly unstarry town of Dudley, in England’s industrial Midlands. Among the exhibits that have earned it a clutch of awards are two mine shafts, a lime kiln and a collection of postwar trolley buses. This month the visitor attraction gained another, more unexpected accolade, becoming – it believes – the most popular museum in the world on TikTok.

It has more than 350,000 followers worldwide, and its short video clips, often featuring a cast of re-enactors in historic dress, can attract many more viewers. A recent video featuring a character called “1920s grandad” offering advice in a tar-thick Black Country accent has been viewed more than 2.2m times. “My favourite TikTok account giving me LIFE right now,” reads one of the clip’s almost 12,000 comments.

For the hard-pressed heritage sector, struggling perennially to attract younger visitors and this year reeling from on-off Covid-related closure, this level of engagement with a new audience represents a kind of alchemy. Abby Bird, the museum’s communications manager, admits she had no expectation of such popularity when she launched the TikTok account in late August. “I remember thinking I would be really happy if we got 10,000 followers by Christmas,” she says.
posted by Bella Donna (7 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Wikipedia entries for Dudley and the Black Country.

A handy guide to Black Country dialect.

(I don't live in the Black Country but you can quite literally see it from here - our western view is of the hills just east of Dudley.)
posted by Major Clanger at 1:05 PM on December 13, 2020 [2 favorites]

This is extremely cool. I am now praying to the Gods of every religion I can name that no project managers see this, lest ‘tiktok engagement strategy’ find its way into standard heritage interpretation checklists for development planning approval
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 1:50 PM on December 13, 2020 [6 favorites]

Re: Black Country dialect - what's interesting is that it "preserves many archaic traits of Early Modern English and even Middle English". A glimpse into the past.

Re: ‘tiktok engagement strategy’ - the museum has a cast of re-enactors that populate the buildings and engage with visitors. A cast of actors makes museum video creation a little easier!
posted by Speculatist at 2:18 PM on December 13, 2020

Three things I know about Dudley :-

It is the largest town in England which does not have a railway station.

It is the largest town in England which does not have, and has never had, a Football League club.

It is the town depicted on the front and inner cover of Led Zeppelin IV.
posted by Cardinal Fang at 2:48 PM on December 13, 2020 [7 favorites]

My entire life has a cast that populate the buildings and engage with visitors. It's really quite odd, when I think about it, but there they are, all the time.

(Seriously, I think this museum thing where they take off on social media is wonderful. The thing where the museums challenge each other to post stuff to twitter that fits a certain description is also great. I want more museums to keep intruding into my life generally, because I don't think about visiting museums that often, but if they come visit me, then I'll probably think more about visiting them.)
posted by hippybear at 2:53 PM on December 13, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best fish and chips in the Midlands at least, fried in authentic Black Country beef dripping.

Have taken multiple school groups on trips there and am always impressed by the enthusiasm of the staff. Black Country dialect is pure poetry to these metropolitan Brummie ears.

Also stars in a fair bit of Peaky Blinders, whenever they hang out by a canal.
posted by brilliantmistake at 3:03 PM on December 13, 2020 [7 favorites]

I have spent a lot of my working life in the Black Country, and have been on several visits (school and otherwise) to the BCM. It's a great success story and a great place to visit.

Re: accent: I have come to really appreciate the local dialects too, and remember being in a shop on Dudley's main street one lunchtime listening to another customer talking to the person behind the counter and realising that the speaker's accent was so rich that I could only actually understand a few of the words they were using.

Teddy Gray's Sweet Factory is worth a watch - I believe it's still going now.
posted by Martha My Dear Prudence at 12:58 PM on December 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

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