Add Your Museum to Wikipedia
Why Add a Wikipedia Article?
You've searched the internet, right? Ever notice how frequently Wikipedia articles are among the first links? That's a reason to write a Wikipedia article about your local / favorite museum. If someone does a search on a topic that the museum can inform about, that should appear.
Help museums everywhere by linking up data. Technologists make wonderful use of the data in Wikipedia to create links to other museums and data sources. This site is an example -- it began with a spreadsheet of data about museums, then expanded to include Wikipedia data. More data helps museums do their jobs better.
Adding Your Article
After you sign up for a Wikipedia account, here's a couple things to expect for writing an article about your museum. This is all based on my experience writing my own first article in Wikipedia about the Arlington Historical Museum.
Wikipedia's Your First Article guide is pretty helpful, especially for getting to know the rules of the road for putting in a good quality (and accepted) article. The notability requirement is important, but more on that below. Also, for the purposes of linking and connecting, it helps a lot to look at the Museum Infobox Template and use it in your page. You can fill in as much or as little as you want. Just putting in the name and a website (if one exists) is super helpful for the linkiness that makes data interesting!
A little research time to establish notability will be helpful. Look up external sources that refer to or describe the museum. In my first article, I was delighted to discover that the local county government had issued a resolution acknowledging the Arlington Historical Museum. That makes sense as a great source, since, after all, this is the sort of thing that museums should easily be recognized for. Local newspapers, too, should have citable articles.
If you cannot find sources to establish Wikipedia notability for your museum's or historical society's work, they're doing it wrong.
Remember that Wikipedia is a tertiary resource. It concerns itself with providing widely agreed-upon information. An argument or critique of the museum is not the purpose. Instead, give the basic information about what visitors can expect to see and learn about. I liked adding links to other Wikipedia entries about the topics that the museums has information about. Again, linkiness is good for disseminating knowledge, especially on the web and especially especially within Wikipedia. So, Arlington Historical Museum starts with mentioning Captain John Smith, who has an independant Wikipedia entry, and I made sure to include that internal link. (By the way, internal links are easy. They look like [[Captain John Smith]] and Wikipedia's software takes care of the rest.).
To insert references, there is a handy dropdown to insert citations. It will guide you through entering citations. Note that Wikipedia will growl at you if you insert a reference that way without including the References List block at the bottom of the page. That just means adding the following at the end of the page.
Congratulations! You just shared knowledge with the world and helped other curious people learn by writing a Wikipedia page!
Wikipedians also care deeply about sharing knowledge, and keeping that knowledge on Wikipedia solid. Expect to see a notification that your first article has been reviewed and accepted. Seems from my first experience that if you have a couple external citations, it'll be a happy thumbs-up checkbox!
I had done almost all of this work and was ready to start writing, before I had actually visted the Arlington Historical Museum. I was glad that I did before I wrote. It is a charming, small museum, not much bigger than my apartment (which is small by any measure). A couple of volunteers were hanging out watching the shop and talking about pre-Christian Ireland. They suggested I look for the hidden piggie in the small model railroad in one of the displays. I didn't find the bacon, but I had a lovely time, and that made writing the Wikipedia article more important to me.
Find A Museum!
Ready to give it a try? This site is here to help you. From the front page, in the right sidebar tell your browser to locate you (give it permissions if you want), then hit Find Me A Museum to see what close to you. Only a tiny fraction of museums and historical societies have Wikipedia entries, so you'll have plenty to choose from!