An Instagram Museum Experience

I was invited to participate in the National Gallery of Art’s first ever Instameet…. because I work there and I’m a millennial, I guess.

I’ve learned a lot in the last 24 hours, like:

  • Apparently there is a whole new world on Instagram (I just popped my cherry)

  • I find this new cool status is forcing me to reflect upon my last 5 years in Europe where life was grand but I had a solid Nokia brick for a communication device. Maybe my European experiences weren’t as great and I don’t have as much depth to me as I think I do because none of it was documented appropriately on Instagram. Apparently phones now take photos and apps encourage “community”

  • I’d say the majority of the people I met did not care about the art, just posing with it

  • Tagging the artist in content with artwork featured didn’t seem to be a thing, but tagging the museum was… because my ego will pat itself on the back if @ngadc shares something I “created”. Is this the new sports-car-tiny-dick thing?

  • Upon meeting the other people in this “interactive group”, each person would look up my Instagram handle before really engaging with me, even though I was standing right there in the flesh. Some new social validation process is happening…

  • Since I had no followers, no one I met wanted to be my “friend”. Well okay, I connected with one person (@ashleysinha)

  • I also wasn’t dressed cool enough for anyone to take my photo. So much for dressing appropriately (& admittedly rather mundanely) to go to work. How dare I not try super hard to look effortlessly chic?

  • Everyone seemed to be following the cool kids who were photography directing the “models” of the group. There is a new magnetic force in the adult world. I thought we were done with high school….

  • I met the owner/director/whatever of @igdc - a group that I learned about at this Instameet that does regular gatherings merging arts, architecture and other DC landmarks + community. I felt like I’d discovered this whole new world into DC & was SO inspired. After learning this person also worked at the NGA I went up to her to introduce myself and simply compliment her on creating such a cool community. She stared at me as if I were speaking another language and walked away. Little did I know this would be my first introduction into “DC creative community” and the “female boss ladies”. Dang, sorry, didn’t realize that complimenting you meant stepping on your turf. That’s sure as hell a community I don’t want to be a part of.

  • I don’t think I care to participate in an Instameet again. I didn’t really learn anything and would prefer to view art without the meaningless distractions.

  • Museums are more interested to invite people who are popular on Instagram to VIP events than people engaged in the quality of conversations in the art world. Fuck man, I missed the boat big time. Lesson learned: don’t go to grad school for anything art related, just get really good at Instagram.

All sarcasm aside, I have learned about the value a genuinely-voiced but curated Instagram can have and am observing how I can partake in THAT kind of an online social community. With or without bending over backwards for approval from museums and “community organizers” alike.