Time to dust off the old selfie stick

Proving that the times really are a changin', curators and artists must now contend with a new question as they create and exhibit art—is it selfie-worthy?

Ellen Gamerman, Arts and Culture Reporter for the Wall Street Journal, recently explored the phenomenon in her piece, The Top Selfie-Worthy Museum Shows of 2017. 

To draw visitors and grab global attention, museums and galleries are mounting shows with strong digital potential. Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat are turning exhibits into pop-culture experiences. Shows with multi-sensory elements or artist-created interactive environments that shine in selfies are at a premium.

As always, it’s worth checking out Gamerman’s full article, which features some incredible images from exhibits that were either explicitly designed to be “selfie-worthy,” or just conveniently happened to feature work that lends itself well to the Instagram-happy among us.

Bird’s Eye View

Stepping back for a moment, there are a few clear takeaways from the article, and the greater trend toward a selfie-friendly show…

It can boost attendance.

Melissa Chiu, director of the Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is quoted in the article discussing an exhibition that featured “dizzying mirror rooms filled with inflatables, flashing lights and more…” and predicting that shared pictures from the show will help break attendance records.

You can build much more easily today than ever before a local community but also a national and international presence. Social media allows you to do that in a way that would have been unfathomable before.

Another show discussed in the article—at the New Museum in New York—broke the institution’s attendance records. 

It can help artists.

Marc Glimcher, president of Pace Gallery, is also quoted in the article, saying artists whose work includes immersive features are benefiting from the social-media boom.

Everybody talks about the experience economy and the share economy and it's having an impact in the art world for sure, he said. A recent exhibit at the gallery's …which included a video installation of flowers that seemed to grow on visitors and then explode, was extended twice.

It can create connections, of course.

Though not explicitly mentioned in the article, it’s easy to see why a selfie-show checks off a few of the Creating Connection best practices – it’s fun, it can create lasting memories (for you and your social media followers), and it provides a new way for audiences to interact with one another and the work on display.