I love Instagram. I enjoy looking at what my friends are seeing and witnessing how they view the world around them. I like following talented photographers and living vicariously through them as they explore places I have or haven’t visited myself, amping up my Wanderlust. Instagram is easily one of my favourite social media channels.
I also love museums. There are a great many of them on Instagram now. Rightly so. As a fan of both, it’s clear how museums can use the photo sharing network to share content in a more relaxed, fresh and sociable manner. I started Wellcome Collection’s Instagram account for those reasons, among others. We can engage with visitors to our physical venue as well as showcase our wonders with people all over the world; many will never visit but will nevertheless get a lot out of following (I hope).
When looking for museums to follow, both in a personal and professional capacity, I searched on Instagram; I asked Twitter for recommendations; I googled it and found some lists. You know, “20 Best Museums on Instagram”, and the like. Reading these, I was surprised that most of the suggestions were the real heavy hitters in the museum world and mainly US based. Surprised in the sense that most of the ones listed were obvious; I’d already searched for them on Instagram as soon as I joined. There were a few that I hadn’t known about though. Another observation I made was that they were almost exclusively art institutions.
A colleague forwarded one of the most recent ones to me just this week. And we come to the point of this post. Every. List. Is. The. Same.
Well, the core of the lists are. The #InstaMuseum day recently showcased so many excellent museums on Instagram and I’m sick of these lists ignoring the variety of subjects and approaches out there. The ones they list are fine, don’t get me wrong; they’re just not awesome. And even if some of them are, I’m sick of seeing them on every bloody list. Is it because the other listers are lazy? Do they think only the hugely popular art galleries deserve a mention? Do they genuinely not like any of the other museum Instagram accounts out there?
So I’m making a list. A list of museums on Instagram I follow because they’re doing something different. Because they’re engaging. Because they interest me. And, crucially, because some of these museums you might not have seen on other lists.
The caveat is, of course, that all lists are subjective and I’m by no means implying mine is the best one. Nor the most accurate. Nor anywhere near as comprehensive as it should be. It isn’t any of those things; it can’t be. (See this ace database of museums on Instagram for that.) But the museums here are interesting and varied and you should be following them. In no particular order, then…
Horniman Museum and Gardens
Morbid Anatomy Museum
Royal Ontario Museum
Oxford University Museum of Natural History
American Museum of Natural History
Istanbul Toy Museum
Sometimes it’s not just the museums themselves that are good to follow. Museums are full of talented and lovely people who enjoy sharing their work with the world. Here are a couple of individuals I recommend following for some great behind the scenes glimpses as well as one account focusing on a curious thematic collection.
Mark B. Schlemmer
Finally, I’m including Wellcome Collection in this post. I’m not including it in my list of must-follow museums but I can’t resist the urge to mention it here in an aspirational sense. A lot of the museums above do amazing work with Instagram and we’re always trying to improve and push ourselves too. We’ve integrated Instagram into our latest exhibition, organised an Instagramers meet up and use the submitted photos in some of our blog posts. Hopefully we’ll be able to continue being creative with this most wonderful of social media channels.