Museums and Instagram

There is no contest when it comes to my favorite social media platform. I am undeniably obsessed with Instagram and with its new addition of the “story” feature it is practically making Snapchat obsolete (if you ask me). I follow over 3,000 accounts, a staggering number even to me, and I have carefully curated my feed to consist mainly of food, yoga, clothes, museums, and artists. I generally only post photos along the lines of the same themes, and it is very rare that a real person is actually featured in my posts. I am not sure when this obsession began, but here we are.

Because of my chosen course of academic study and career aspirations, it only makes sense that I utilize Instagram to follow, interact with, and document my museum experience. Anyone who uses a social media platform as an expression of themselves would do the same. In class we have discussed the idea of looking at the world in a different way, because we are searching for ways to document a moment for social media. I must admit, I am completely guilty of this practice. Every meal I eat, every trip I take, every exhibit I attend, is constantly rated for the “Instagram-ability” if you will. Many of my close friends know not to eat until I’ve taken a photo (none of them resent me for it – hopefully). And I don’t think it takes away from my experience in the present. In fact, I had never thought of it as something strange or different until we started to discuss it in class. To me, it is exciting because I can end up with photos like this –

Life imitates art in one of my proudest Instagram accomplishments, taken this weekend in the newly renovated East Building of the National Gallery of Art

But, as I mentioned in a previous blog post appropriately titled Stream of Consciousness, the thought that visiting museums could be deemed unnecessary with the increased used of Instagram and other digital initiatives is horrifying to me! When I find museums and galleries on Instagram, I use it as a way to learn about exhibits, see new acquisitions, have a glimpse into all the places I miss from my studies in Paris. While my obsession with Instagram is real, it certainly would never replace the in person experience of seeing a work of art in person.

My freshman year of college, I took a course called “Picasso and Matisse: Friends or Foes?” and we had the opportunity to go to NYC for a weekend full of museum and gallery hoping (really set the bar high for the rest of college). For the entire semester, we talked about the definition of “modernity” and the importance of Picasso’s Les Desmoiselles d’Avignon (1907) to the modern art movement.


We talked about this painting for what seemed like the entire semester. But, truly, nothing compared to when I saw it in person at the Museum of Modern Art. The colors, the size, the detail, was nothing like what we had seen in books and online. There’s nothing that can take that thrill away than actually seeing it in person (if you ask me).

As I was researching this post and reading all types of articles I could find regarding “museums and Instagram” and I came across this article titled “Millennial’s Are Discovering Art by Ditching Museums for Instagram and Pinterest”. The title is misleading however, because they article actually cites a study that details millennials are more likely to purchase art online than in a traditional auction setting. Does this speak to the fact that social media is pushing art to millennials, or to the fact that practically everything is available to shop online via Amazon or otherwise? To me, whether purchasing art, looking at art, discussing art, and anything else related, while I am Instagram-obsessed there is nothing better than the in-person experience.


Week 9



One thought on “Museums and Instagram

  1. I loved this post! This idea of being Instagram obsessed is so often talked about (and it is usually negative) and I am there with you; I love Instagram. I love posting about my travels and art adventures. I don’t follow as many accounts but I do find it to be one of the best ways to learn about new exhibits and an exciting exhibition has absolutely been the reason for a trip. I can’t count how many times I’ve taken the train to NY just to visit a museum. I planned a trip to Paris around an exhibit (plus, it’s Paris so…duh). It heightens my excitement to visit these places, not replaces it with satisfaction from a photo. People thought photography would replace all other forms of art but that didn’t happen. Instagram won’t replace visitation, only give new, beautiful perspectives! I love seeing people photographs from exhibits and seeing what they see and how they can capture it. There is something to be said about whether we are actually learning anything or merely being a moth to a flame without thinking and just posting…but that is another topic for another day.

    As far as purchasing art online; that makes sense. Everything for sale is going online because of convenience. But nothing will ever beat going to see the size and power of Picasso’s Guernica in person.


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