Better Art Grams

If mobile phones are inevitable in museums—which increasingly they are—can social media actually enhance our experience of art? A hopeful picture emerges in a 2015 study Budge conducted at the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences in Sydney. She found that over 90% of Instagram posts were about details of the exhibit, not vanity selfies as  most would assume. This suggested that most visitors had taken the time to see the real artifact and compose a thoughtful caption.

The answer isn’t to ditch your phone, or even check it in to the museum coatroom. Instead, try this: Put your smartphone in your pocket and stand before the work. Look at it, and allow yourself to get lost in it. Then, by all means whip out your phone, take a picture, and tell the world what you think.

Or, take a cue from Michelle Obama herself. Addressing the sea of cellphones raised in the air at the unveiling ceremony, the former first lady paused before starting her remarks.

“Let me just take a minute,” she said, turning to Sherald’s opus and looking up at it. “It’s amazing. Wow.”

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