Are museums selling their souls to Instagram?

With 23.8 million posts on Instagram under the hashtag #museum, art definitely attracts likes. A phenomenon understood by museums as well as netizens who fill their subjects with canvases and immersive installations. In 2014, the platform, which has 1.5 billion users, has since then launched #MuseumSelfieDay, a world selfie day in museums, held annually on January 16.

It must be said that museums offer everything that influencers can dream of: aesthetics, optimal lighting and commitment to an intellectual environment. “Art exhibitions are aesthetically pleasing and allow for self-staging, which is content that works very well for social networks,” Analyzing the art influencer Hugo Spin, nicknamed Haradaverhugo.

Hugo knows what he’s talking about: museums, he’s dedicated his business and his Instagram account to art history with over 18,900 followers. “One day, my friend said that he would not go to the exhibition because he did not know how to dress to go to museums. I told myself there was a hell of a job to sanctify the institutions to be done…hence my approachable and sometimes offbeat tone.” explains.

A bridge from the sofa to the museum

Raise your hand if you, like Hugo’s friends, have ever wondered what you’re doing in a museum. Accessibility issues, the elitist image of the art world, the lack of mediation… There are many reasons why we feel out of place at an exhibition. Instagram plays a big role here, bridging the gap between throne-sliding and ticket-buying.

“I’m sure Instagram has changed the museum experience as people look at hashtags of places they love” notes art critic and digital sociologist Alexia Guggémos. “It’s always been one of the main issues for museums: how do you bring people in?” “Social networks are really a way to project yourself to future visitors.”

The second most visited museum in the world (after MoMA and its 5.6 million subscribers), the Louvre is increasing its strategies to satisfy its 4.9 million visitors. “Since 2012, the Louvre Museum is available on the Instagram platform. The editorial line chosen from the beginning was to highlight the palace and its collections by providing a neat aesthetic and information about the works. provides the communication service of the museum.

“Louvre’s presence on social networks allows us to be close to our guests who come from far away. For example, Americans and Brazilians follow us a lot on Instagram, who are happy to connect with the museum before or after their visit.

A neat theme and interaction with its community seems like the perfect cocktail to entice future audiences, especially the youngest, especially when we know. 70% of Instagram users worldwide are under the age of 34. “The Louvre Museum welcomes a very young public, 50% of visitors are under 30 years old. We also see that our viewers are widely sharing their travel experiences on social networks.” representatives of the museum continue. “We estimate that the publication mentions the Louvre between 300 and 400 per day. fodder and in the story.”

For museums, age consideration is an important factor in both exhibitions and communication. XI Center for Digital Artse Paris-based Atelier des Lumières is digitizing its programming. Its director, Jacques de Tarragon, confirms: “The digital aspect of our space allows us to attract a younger audience, that is, 40% of visitors under the age of 35. An important part of our communication is self-generated because this young audience is so connected. With Instagram, the public becomes part critic and mediator and actively participates in the necessary reference to the exhibition.

Exhibitions for photography only

Museums, more than ever, need to think about how they communicate. “There are works that are more mediagenic than others, and this will perhaps motivate the Internet user who will try to find the work done on Instagram, Alexia Guggémos explains. This is the most impressive video today. Everything about the story, the emotion, works very well too. Museums are increasingly trying to provide more experiences, and this is felt in networks. More than ever, the goal is to arouse emotion, to surprise. An Instagram user likes to have a special connection with the people they follow, and organizations are no exception.

Open since 2018, Atelier des Lumières combines all the elements to become a hit on social media: an immersive experience and a story. “We honor the work of the great masters of art history through digital creations. It turns out that these contents are very easily Instagrammed. You take a photo, even if it’s in secret, and the rendering is instantly stunning, Jacques de Tarragona continues. But be warned, while we’re happy with the instagrammable nature of our exhibitions, they’re not designed specifically for networks..»

One of the most important facts is that a new generation of museums is emerging with a program that is, to say the least, dubious: pop-up museums. In 2018, the Selfie Museum opened in Los Angeles and offered visitors not audio guides, but… selfie sticks. “The new generation is looking for a framework of practice to restore it through networks, Ahead of Alexia Guggémos. This is a method of collecting material, reviews, photos, and it is interesting from this point of view. The content isn’t really.

Focus on the cultural aspect

A museum of ice cream, avocados or balloons, the phenomenon of “pop-up museums” creates experiences designed only for social networks, even if it skips the cultural aspect. Fleeing from art critics, emptied by curators, these pop-up museums have no museum in name.

“We observe the appearance of Instagrammable projects or exhibitions at La Villette, particularly successful with their interactive, monumental and self-staged aspects, such as ‘Pop Air’, which we think are not even intended for social networks. Hugo mentions Spin. And in this very specific type of event, the scientific background really fades into the background in favor of an aesthetic and immersive experience. But rest assured, this observation does not (yet) apply to art museums that claim to be so.

“I don’t think we need to place the same basket installations or interact with visitors as imagined by surfing the wave of social networks and cultural institutions that use social networks as an extension of physical space. Hugo Spini continues. That is, museum exhibitions adapt to changes in society, and I think it is quite possible to make a comprehensive exhibition with an ambitious goal..»

Criticized for their superficiality, pop-up museums almost encourage traditional museums to be creative in stimulating visitors. “LInstitutions will not sink into the communication mechanism. The new technology may have some appeal, but it’s more about creating interactivity than generating as many hashtags as possible.judge Alexia Guggémos. With the arrival of new networks (and therefore new codes) like TikTok, it remains to be seen whether museums can continue to adapt without falling prey to easy com.

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