To celebrate the launch of our Art Law & More Instagram page, we are taking a look at how the social photo platform has revolutionised the way we experience and perceive art.
In today’s technology-driven world, most large museums, galleries and artists have an Instagram page. And who can blame them? With over 1 billion users and growing, the platform allows unprecedented access to the art world like never before. Leading the way is the Museum of Modern Art, which currently has a staggering 4.3 million Instagram followers.
In January, museums and ancient sites across the world also celebrated Museum Selfie Day. Its hashtag reached an impressive 69.2 thousand hits on Instagram. Mar Dixon, who initiated the idea in 2015, hoped the campaign would make collections more relevant and encourage greater visitor numbers.
Marking a digital turning point for the Royal family, the Queen even posted on Instagram for the first time during her recent visit to the Science Museum. Signed Elizabeth R, the post shared an archive image of a letter written in 1843 by Charles Babbage, the world’s first computer pioneer, to her great-great-grandfather Prince Albert.
Yet the Instagram-turn has not been an entirely positive experience for the art world. In August 2017, a visitor to the Prittlewell Priory damaged an 800-year-old coffin by placing their child inside of it for a photograph. The visitors crossed the barriers and then failed to report the damage before leaving.
An Instagram account recently caused controversy by posting photographs of anonymous hands touching artwork. Touching the Art explained, “by touching the works, you are crossing an invisible barrier that in the context of a gallery or museum becomes a performative act.” A museum in Hamburg strongly opposed the account as it believed the posts would incite a viral phenomenon of copycats.
And in 2018, many visitors were caught touching Yayoi Kusama’s artwork in an exhibition at the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Indonesia. A museum staff member, Amanda Aulia, called the misbehaving visitors “Instagram slaves” as they strained over the barriers to get the best photographs.
It seems Instagram is now in an integral part of how we experience art, but nothing will ever quite compare to the magic of looking away from the screen and appreciating the artwork in person.