Mar Dixon, Social Media Guru Who Launched #AskACurator, Dies at 53

mar dixon
Mar Dixon, as remembered by her profile @MarDixon on X (screenshot and background color edit Valentina Di Liscia/Hyperallergic)

Social media specialist and culture aficionado Mar Dixon died at the age of 53 on Saturday, March 16, in Shropshire, England. Throughout her career, Dixon facilitated a variety of international social media campaigns rooted in audience development for culture centers, starting social media trends such as #AskACurator and #MuseumSelfie and launching the 52Museums online project, among others.

Originally from Pennsylvania and based in the United Kingdom, Dixon is remembered for her innate goal of connecting the individual to the institution at a time of rapid evolution on platforms like Twitter (now X) and Instagram during the early 2010s, as smartphones became more ubiquitous and hashtags became key for visibility. Dixon harnessed social media’s popularity and accessibility to help demystify museums for the public and to encourage people to make personal connections with the arts.

Dixon’s work in the culture sector also included initiatives such as Teens in Museums, Kids in Museums, and MuseumCamp, which factored in youth accessibility and attitudes toward institutions. “We’ve done tremendous work with babies and under-10s, but now we have the challenge of ensuring this strong and powerful generation recognizing the importance of museums in our society,” she said in a 2013 interview. “Cliché, but they are our next politicians who will be making future decisions on our culture.”

With Dixon’s wide reach and zest for arts, culture, and connectivity, various colleagues from institutions and organizations she collaborated with have publicly mourned her loss over the last week, sharing selfies and memories online — a resounding echo of her impact through social media. News of her death was shared by her longtime friend and colleague Linda Spurdle, head of digital development for Birmingham Museums Trust.

“She loved to be called a troublemaker, and it was always good trouble,” Spurdle recounted on X. “Her reaction to a problem was always, ‘What can we do about this?’”

Dozens of people from museum workers to digital consultants and friends made along the way responded to the news with sadness, highlighting that Dixon was always encouraging, full of life, and a bundle of energy and ideas. The Museums Association and the Museums + Heritage Advisor also published separate tributes to Dixon, gathering public messages from colleagues honoring her life.

Manchester Museum Director Esme Ward described Dixon as “wonderful, a force for good, full of hope and humour,” and the National Lottery Heritage Fund highlighted her important work while expressing gratitude for her support of its own Heritage Treasures Day campaign.

Dixon is survived by her partner Paul Hutchinson, her daughter Charlotte, and her sister Darlene Cavalier.

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