Museums in Quarantine: 5 Trends

This year is half over – and we’ve already spent most part in quarantine! But Museums ensured that this time was creatively charged and found new ways to reach us. Given the dizzying speed at which hashtags appear and re-appear, we decided to preserve some of the best things that caught our eye online.

From regular doses of Instagram Live sessions, to museum-games, posing as art and hashtag challenges, a lot has (already) happened. Take a look at 5 trends that museums adopted during a lockdown and ensured their audiences never had a dull moment. Did you follow or participate in any of them?

Museums Quarantine Trends #1 : Museum From Home

This trend started by Sacha Coward dominated the lockdown period with Museums sharing their collections through : a) minute-long videos of curators’ favourite objects b) virtual tours of the galleries and exhibits c) conservation stories and more. The trend also witnessed the rise of #MuseumMomentOfZen & #CalmDownArt with museums (and audiences) sharing soothing artwork.

Here are some that we particularly loved:

Museums Quarantine Trends #2 : Museum Games

Museums always have great content to share, but the lockdown really gave us a glimpse of how innovative they can get with presenting this content. #MuseumGames started with crosswords and trivia; followed by a rise in art-jigsaw puzzles. We particularly enjoyed collaborating with India’s leading museums on developing games! Museums also played spot-the-difference and treasure hunts; and the Instagram Bingo was a great way of getting that reality check about things you still haven’t seen – in some cases, experiences you still haven’t lived! Just so we’re clear, things like Instagram Bingo and Crosswords / Spot the difference have been around for long – but 2020 gave us a new opportunity to repeat these fun-games.

What was refreshing to see was Museums playing with one another : the Name-Object-Flower-City game had museums nominating each other, tagging them with an alphabet to share 4 things from the collection.

Museums Quarantine Trends #3 : Online Learning

Undoubtedly, this trend made us wonder why museums weren’t using social media for online learning programs before the Lockdown! Was it that there was more importance placed on visitors coming to the “physical space”? But then again, 2020 has witnessed a major shift in ways we consume content and social media became one of the best options available for museums to connect with audiences. Museums hosted a) DIY art sessions, b) Storytelling sessions c) and Lectures; but what we absolutely loved was the availability of colouring sheets and other downloadable educational content from museums! Here is a Raza-inspired colouring sheet by Piramal Museum of Art.

We even loved their Join-the-Dots activity which is part of their #MindfulMondays. Take a look at it here.

Museums Quarantine Trends #4 : Online-Challenges and Community connections!

As far back as 2015, campaigns such as #VanGoYourself already proved how people love posing as artwork. The Getty Museum’s 2020 challenge however, is here to stay – with audiences channeling their creative energies even more than before. Check them out – #BetweenArtAndQuarantine  

We especially loved community-oriented challenges! With the lockdown, and the new “work from home” culture that took over our lives, what Indian audiences definitely missed was sharing their lunch with others (and the animated lunch table conversations)! In response, the JNAF in Mumbai (India) started a fun doodle-challenge (based on a painting), asking their followers to ‘share their lunch’. The success of this led to people to sharing their chair / view from the window and so much more.

The JNAF also introduced art-inspired stickers for Instagram, using which users can create their own little artwork to share! See it here! We made a few ourselves. Don’t you just love these?

Meanwhile, many museums tapped into their community to invite musicians, dancers, storytellers, theatre actors to re-interpret collections. This was definitely a great way to expand and build on community connections.

Take a look at these examples:

Museums also used this opportunity to connect with one another using #CuratorBattle. Started by the Yorkshire Museum around mid-April, each week has a new theme. We saw the #CreepiestObject, ‘best cat’, ‘vintage toys’ and even the #BestMuseumBum [LOL] ! This trend might be between curators, but it’s something fun for audiences to keep up with!

Museums Quarantine Trends #5 : Crowdsourcing Content

At the beginning of the year we had predicted what the museum of the future might look like. We had wondered about digital collecting, and how museums will tell the story of 2020 decades from now. Well, we got a glimpse! The StadtMuseum Berlin is already collecting stories of the pandemic online and through it’s social media channels. This co-creation and co-curation WITH audiences and FOR audiences is going to be the hallmark of our times and a trend that will last for a long long time to come.

An interesting example is also the Orange Country Museum of Art. They recognized that audiences might be a little tired of the “screen-life” – so their crowdsourced project is a sound collage called Social Distance, Haiku and You’. How wonderful is that! Do give it a listen!

We hope this little trend-report inspires more creative campaigns and content for audiences in the times to come. As a museum-professional reading this, if you’re new to the world of social media, let this report not overwhelm you! The beauty of social media is, that you can always experiment with existing hashtags and trends – or simply create your own as you grow 🙂

Did we miss something? Let us know if there was an awesome hashtag / trend you spotted and don’t find it here.

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