What does Instagram tell us about the MFAH art collections?
Recently I took a deep dive into Instagram to see which photos visitors were posting the most when at the Museum. Armed with these newfound Instagram favorites, my colleagues and I decided to have a little fun and create a new way of exploring the Museum: through #InstaTourMFAH, an Instagram-inspired, self-guided tour.
Reflecting on a Favorite Sculpture
Besides seeing lots of visitors’ selfies and photos of their loved ones, we noticed that several objects and spaces from our galleries kept reappearing.
For example, this circular, glistening sculpture by Subodh Gupta is a favorite. Some of the photos highlight the contrast of light and darkness by capturing a bystander in profile; others zoom in close, demonstrating the mirror-like quality of individual objects within the sculpture, which is made of stainless steel kitchen utensils and containers.
Photo by @chelchelseas
Photo by @bigphots
Photo by @baelesh
It’s Ancient History
The contrast of the old and new appears regularly in photos that visitors shoot in the lobby of the Beck Building. The dramatic modern architecture of the building designed by Rafael Moneo plays backdrop to works from our antiquities collection, including a rare sarcophagus, a marble goddess, and a Roman ruler.
Photo by @tmnewtn
Photo by @ruthiechen
Photo by @galaorwhatever
Snapping pictures during their visit continues to be an important way visitors engage with art. In a survey, we learned that 96% of MFAH visitors had smartphones during their visit, and 78% of them used these devices to take photos while they were here.
What Stops You in Your Tracks?
With the objects that were appearing most on Instagram, my colleagues and I created a new “highlights” tour called #InstaTourMFAH. Rather than focusing on art-history information or biographies of artists, our guide examines why these objects are so intriguing to photograph. What makes you stop in your tracks, take a second look, and whip out your smartphone?
Take the #InstaTourMFAH
The #InstaTourMFAH handout is available online or at any MFAH admissions desk. You’ll find prompts and questions suggesting ways to look at and experience some of our most-important works in a new way. You don’t need a smartphone or even an Instagram account to enjoy this new self-guided experience. Just pick up a copy and start looking!
Share Your Faves
If you do happen to take a photo, or perhaps even discover a new work of art that should be added to the tour, share it with the hashtag #InstaTourMFAH. We can’t wait to see what you find!