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September 23, 2013

Join U-M Museum of Art in UMS Tweet Seats

By Sydney Hawkins

The University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) first participated in the UMS tweet seats program during the 2012-13 season, and the performance that I attended was Alison Balsom, Trumpet & the Scottish Ensemble (April 20th, 2013). As both a trumpet player and a social media enthusiast, I was very excited to attend the performance–and even more excited to be invited to live tweet the event with others that were interested in the interactive aspect of experiencing the performing arts.

As the music started, I began to think about the performance in more of a conceptual way–how could I articulate what I was seeing and hearing to someone wasn’t there? How could I describe the experience in words or pictures? Was there a way for me to educate or inspire people who were not present at the performance? As I was tweeting from the @ummamuseum handle, I was also thinking about ways that I could relate and connect the performance to the Museum. The Baroque period music that filled Hill Auditorium on that night provided a great opportunity to delve into the various Baroque period works found in UMMA’s encyclopedic collection. Some of the paintings really seemed to ‘come alive’ to the music as I was looking at them.


After participating in the tweet seats myself, I realized two things: 1) there is unlimited potential in pairing UMMA’s vast collection of over 19,000 works with the diverse line-up of world-class performing arts presented by UMS each year, and 2) this presents a great opportunity for UMMA and our students to help create a parallel narrative and to draw connections between visual art and performing art. This season, we will work with our student docents to prepare a visual narrative from UMMA’s collection prior to each of the UMS tweet seat shows. The students will then attend the shows and live-tweet the performances.

UMMA’s partnership with UMS seems very natural, specifically with the focus on dance performances during the 2013-2014 UMS season (look for an opening night Q&A and “You Can Dance” event accompanying each dance performance). You can watch for our blog posts (before) and tweets (during) the Hubbard Street Dance Chicago (9/27), Ballet Preljocaj (11/1) and Compagnie Käfig (2/14). We hope to highlight some interesting ways that our collection relates specifically to the dance performances that we will be tweeting about this season. See you at #UMSLobby!

Are you interested in giving tweet seats a try? Call our ticket office and mention “tweet seats” (along with the related performance) to order at 734-764-2538.


Sydney Hawkins is the Marketing Communications Manager at the University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA). Find her on Twitter @SydneyHawkins.