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
London was lovely, but good to be back in #Cleveland! We were welcomed back by Juno, the transparent woman, who first arrived in Cleveland from Dresden in 1952. Her clear plastic skin reveals her underlying #anatomy: the #skeleton, blood vessels, organs, nerves, and lymphatic system. The #museum is back to regular hours this week, so come visit to learn about how #medicine has viewed and treated the human body through #history.
Are you a member of the Dittrick Museum? If you aren’t yet, the time is now! We will be hosting a series called “Explorations,” offering Friends of the Dittrick, as well as members and trustees of the Cleveland Medical Library Association a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the museum. On July 29th at 5:30pm, Brandy Schillace will present on the history of forensic medicine as epitomized by the career of John G. Spenzer, “Cleveland’s Sherlock.” Photo credit: @franklanza. Go to our website to find out more! #forensics #Cleveland #museum #eventsincle #universitycircle @universitycircle #cwru @cwru
American Museum of Natural History
The opening of the Akeley Hall of African Mammals in 1936 marked the birth of the golden age of the diorama. Named for Carl Akeley, the naturalist, explorer, and Museum taxidermist, the hall showcases large mammals of Africa. At the center is a freestanding group of eight elephants, poised as if to charge, surrounded by 28 vivid habitat dioramas. These provide a glimpse of the diverse topography of Africa and its wildlife, from the Serengeti Plain to the waters of the Upper Nile to the volcanic mountains of what was once the Belgian Congo. #MuseumMonday AMNH/K. Regan
Istanbul Toy Museum
Curator Tine Schmidt Haislund in front of one of her favorite paintings. Anna Ancher: 'Sunlight in the blue room'. 1891. She loves the painting for the bright blue color, the sunlight through the window and the arabesque shadow of the flowers on the wall. It is as if the shadow plays a leading role in the picture despite the little girl sitting in the foreground. #annaancher #skagensmuseum
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.
Female northern flicker (Colaptes auratus) before it was prepared by yours truly. Not only do these woodpeckers have a hyoid that wraps around the back of their head and attach to the top of the skull, but their tongue also loops over their cranium with connections around the nostrils. If you're going to go through the trouble of boring holes in things, you'd better have a tongue long enough to fish out the goods.
Mark B. Schlemmer
Regram from @photojennic's #museummannequins wrap up at bit.ly/1jDpLh7 : "The 'award’ for #creepiest mannequin I have so far encountered has to go to this mannequin at the National Postal #Museum in Washington DC, USA." The only consolation is that this #mannequin looks like it's running away from you – rather than the other way around. More afraid of you than you are of it? #DontMakeEyeContact
Wasn't there a movie recently about a #zombie Lincoln? Or Lincoln chasing zombies? Or zombies pretending to be a family of Lincoln mannequins while they await the apocalypse? #MaybeThatWasVampires These #museummannequin beauties are in the @lincolnmuseum in Springfield, #Illinois. Did you spot the sinister interloper in the background? It's a #mannequin John Wilkes Booth! #AbrahamLincoln #history #library #libraries #museums #museummannequins
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.