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The festive season of 2016 was not only a perfect opportunity to increase engagement with social media users, but it was also a chance to show the diversity of the Fitzwilliam Museum’s collection through the creation of an animated advent calendar. Every day, we posted a new door which automatically opened and closed, revealing a Christmas-themed image, some of which were also animated: Pissarro’s Piette’s House had a light snowfall floating down, steam rose from a hot meal about to be served in a 16th century illuminated manuscript and stars twinkled above the heads of the Three Kings in Eric Gill’s wood engraving, Adeste Fideles.
The inspiration for the doors of the calendar came from the newly photographed Snow Crystals by Cecilia Glaisher, an accomplished amateur photographer and illustrator, whose son was J.W.L Glaisher, a huge past supporter of the Museum and prolific collector of European pottery. The collection he bequeathed to the Fitzwilliam is still on display in the gallery that bears his name.
Apart from spreading festive cheer, the calendar was able to showcase many works of art that are not normally on display, and even some that had never been seen by the public before. The immensity of the collection means that some works might only be displayed once a decade, so this was a great opportunity to give light to some of the hidden gems in our stores.
Reception from social media was very positive, particularly on Facebook, where the calendar amassed 2,382 likes and 1,102 shares. On Twitter it received a total of 913 likes and 588 retweets, with Door No.1 becoming not only our most popular tweet of December, but one of the most liked tweets ever.
Here are a few of the many complimentary comments we received:
My advent calendar has no inside pictures so I look forward to this every day.
SO much better than a piece of sub-standard chocolate!
Every day I keep saying “oh, this one is my favourite, the best yet”! Did I enjoy advent calendars even as much when I was a child? Thank you.
I have absolutely loved opening the windows everyday!!!
Hope you can do this next year – gladdened my bah-humbug heart!
An online exhibition of Cecilia Glaisher’s work can be seen on the Fitzwilliam Museum website.
Ayshea Carter, Designer, The Fitzwilliam Museum