Culture is future » Innovation and digital

08.14.2015

Contribution: "Museums and Instagram, marriage of convenience or passion?" by Marie Ballon

The museums have realized the potential of pictures shared by their visitors. Initiatives are multiplying, strategies are emerging, while a long proscribed amateur practice, contributes to the influence of the heritage.

“Where technology meets culture”

In 2015, a visit to a museum is no longer limited to a passive route through the exhibitions: photographing and sharing its path have become for the visitor a dynamic way of interacting with the site, collections and other visitors, especially via social networks. A recent study by Kurt Salmon for the Forum d'Avignon 2014, shows many examples where museums or cities take part of this practice to enhance their attractiveness and attract new audiences. The city of Bordeaux, for example, for its fourth edition of its Digital Week, has signed an agreement with Wikipedia by organizing a Wiki Day with 10 museums in the city. The inhabitants of Bordeaux have been invited to contribute to the digital history of cultural place. This initiative, involving writing articles and taking pictures for the archives, has enabled the inhabitants, then visitors, to (re)discover the Bordeaux cultural institutions. Visitor loyalty, promotion, interaction, communication, mediation of new audiences, so many attributes that encourage cultural heritage institutions to implement strategies oriented forward the use of digital. The sharing created by visitors while posting pictures on social networks also helps to transform the thousands of virtual visitors into any actual visitors, touched by the experience lived and shared by others before them.

Visit-actor: a new museum experience.

Creation is no longer reserved for artists. Visitors become creators themselves. Instagram and Twitter have replaced brushes, paints, camera and other materials and have become tools of artistic expression in themselves. Since February 2015, the Columbus Museum of Art has been presenting an exhibition of 300 amateur photographs selected in the MobilePhotoNow world contest. It is the first photo exhibition entirely generated by Instagram. But Columbus is not the only one to offer its visitors to create. The San Francisco MOMA or the Brooklyn Museum use their Instagram accounts as interaction with their visitors by sharing pictures of their events and places. In France, the Museum of Toulouse was the first to use this new form of mediation by proposing a campaign "The museum seen by the Instagram community."

More than communication activities, exhibitions are real public mediation tools.

Symptomatic of the new museum experience, MuseumWeek, a live tweet week dedicated to visitors who pace the museums. The second edition has just ended and specialists are already speaking of change in perception on exposition visits. It should be noted first that the MuseumWeek has been the subject of extensive media coverage: 4 TV reports, 10 radio topics and about 500 articles in the press. The impact before and after #MuseumWeek is also measured. With 2,825 participants in 77 countries, the digital chronic observes that this is a ECOSYSTEM which has benefited from this digital asset. The hypothesis of a new era museum then draws towards a "polymorphic museum". Catherine Grenier, in her book “Vers la fin des musées?” ("Towards the end of museums?") evokes the crisis affecting museums and proposes to make the identity evolve to a forum, public, campus, city, world museum, a museum in connection with artists and visitors. “The polymorphic museum is based on an internal dynamic principle that moves its collections, archives, holdings, its editorial production, its history, its spaces, its gray matter… In the future it will not be locked in physical and temporal boundaries of its collection anymore. The museum will have to become extensive, permanent and combine the function of container to that of producer.” Interactive photographic practice now permitted in all French museums, subject to good conduct, participates in this new museum being born before our eyes.

Marie Ballon, Master 1 Publics de la culture et communication, Université d'Avignon