10 Museums Winning at Visual Influence on Instagram

What do people think of when they hear “museum”? Grand, strict, formal, intimidating. 

But what do you think of? Vibrant, dynamic, full of stories, history, and character. 

While the first view holds people off at a distance, the other draws people in.

How can museums bridge these two stories, and show visitors the one they see?

We found 10 museums that have figured it out. They’re crafting their brand identities through visual influence on Instagram, showing people with photos what their museum is really about. And it’s anything from intimidating.

The ways they’re using photos to represent themselves and attract visitors are tactics any museum or destination can adopt too.

1 | The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM)

By showing a behind-the-scenes look at their latest exhibit, the ROM gives breaks down the idea of of museums being closed-off. Instead, the ROM looks intriguing and fun. They also share a lot of other videos, which are great at capturing wandering eyes on Instagram.

Just a @chihulystudio time lapse to brighten your morning! #ChihilyTO #Toronto #glassart

A video posted by Royal Ontario Museum (@romtoronto) on

2 | The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO)

The AGO’s Instagram completely combats the idea of museums being unapproachable. They repost a lot of visitor photos, featuring their guests interacting with their art pieces, with casual and friendly captions.

3 | The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The MET positions itself as an expert in its art, with its detailed (but not too long) descriptions of each piece they photograph. It’s just enough to inspire intrigue, and gives Instagram followers a reason to keep coming back to their feed for more.

4 | Guggenheim Museum

When the Guggenheim promotes an exhibition, they, like the AGO, make sure to post a photo that includes people, to connect the experience to the art. Not only that, the rest of their photos are the perfect mix of the architecture, exhibits, and visitors.

5 | National Gallery of Canada

The photos the National Gallery of Canada posts vary from art pieces to events and visitor photos — but what they all have in common is a cheeky caption. This museum’s unique personality shines on Instagram, and keeps their followers coming back to see what else is new.

6 | Studio Museum

The Studio Museum does a fantastic job of showcasing the smiling faces of its visitors, guests, and artists. As a self-proclaimed “nexus for artists of African descent,” they’ve truly shown themselves as a museum that’s just as much about its people as its art.

7 | Chinati Foundation

Chinati Foundation’s photos all point to the same brand style that defines their museum. Their posts feature bold shapes, clean lines, along with captions that direct an interested visitor to the right exhibit.

8 | British Museum

The British Museum does an amazing job of sharing the photos taken by their visitors, and using them to elaborate on specific exhibits and features in their collection. The hashtag #myBritishMuseum really captures the community element of this story.

9 | Belvedere Museum

It’s clear on Instagram that the Belvedere Museum, while definitely striking, is anything but intimidating. Its feed is vibrant with photos of casual people leisurely taking in their exhibits. This photo is a particular gem, with kids being kids, sprawled on the floor in awe.

10 | Saatchi Gallery

Saatchi Gallery has 1.3 million followers on Instagram. Again, what they’re doing really well is defining and maintaining a specific brand style on their feed (which is something users really love seeing). Their posts are loud, modern, and unmistakably artsy.

#Barcelona-based #artist Raya Sader Burana explores #sports through #paper in her ongoing series of paper #athletes.

A photo posted by Saatchi Gallery (@saatchi_gallery) on

Key Takeaways From These Museums:

While a lot of these 10 museums are large and well-known, these best practices can be used by museums of any size and budget.  

  1. Put a human face to the museum experience. An easy way to steer clear of the “cold” museum feel? Show a smiling face. Show photos of people filling up your halls and rooms, and connect the human experience that’s tied to a visit to your museum.
  2. Maintain a distinct style. The best feeds on Instagram all have a distinct theme — be it a color or a vibe. Choose one that aligns with your museum’s personality. A consistent look to your account page is what’s going to attract followers, who then (hopefully) turn into visitors.
  3. Share visitor photos. If there’s already a quality user-generated photo of an exhibit you want to promote, use it! Sharing the photos your visitors are taking makes social media into a two-way conversation, and amplifies the voices that recommend you.
  4. Reveal the people that keep bring the exhibits to life. Curators have traditionally been somewhat removed from the public, but showing off the people behind the curtain removes that layer of mystery, and adds another human element to your brand.
  5. Show your audience something they can’t see anywhere else. What’s unique about your account? Give people a reason to follow you, that they can’t get from just visiting. Like the ROM, you can show behind-the-scenes efforts in creating each exhibition, for example.

By sharing photos and building your visual influence on Instagram, you can tell your brand story, and break down the misconceptions that are stopping people from giving your museum a visit.

Now it’s your turn!

Want to keep up to date about the latest in visual influence? Subscribe to our bi-weekly newsletter today.

Comments? Questions? Tweet us @CrowdRiff

Header image credit: @anaritaramos_