Museum Instagram: Art Lovers, Ahoy!

Museum Instagram: Art Lovers, Ahoy!
Viewing stunning works of art on Instagram needs to be the next millennial obsession Photo Credit: Prannay Pathak

Can't visit The Louvre or view your favourite van Gogh painting for real? Well, head over to Instagram where you'll get them all in one place

Prannay Pathak
October 15 , 2020
28 Min Read

What’s common to Florence’s Uffizi Gallery, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and The National Gallery in London? Well, all of them display the work of Artemisia Gentileschi. But if you wanted to dive into the work of the Italian Baroque painter, you wouldn’t need to visit either of these. You could just whip out your phone, open Instagram, and—right at the top, in the stories, section, you could find one by The National Gallery, taking you through the self-portraits of “the Beyonce of art history”, including a recently acquired Gentileschi work known as Self-Portrait as Saint Catherine of Alexandria.

However, the London museum is not the only one with a robust social media presence to house the precocious artist’s work. Florence’s famous Uffizi Gallery and New York’s grand Met Museum do it, too, in addition to their own remarkable resident pieces. While the Met houses art pieces and sculptures that art aficionados wait all their livesi to see, the Uffizi Gallery is where local luminary Botticelli has his painting, The Birth of Venus, displayed, along with those by Leonardo da Vinci and Caravaggio.


Grabs from a video tour recently streamed by Madrid's Museo Nacional del Prado

Both names are part of a new, upcoming wave of famous museums and art galleries upping the ante on their social media, catering to a much wider audience base all around the world. Since much before Covid-19 struck the world, these museums have turned into hep, artsy versions of their otherwise academic institutional selves. They have turned contemporary portals to a woke and broke generation that feeds on pretty sights for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Read: 5 Virtual Museum Tours You Can Take from Home

While the Uffizi Gallery regularly unearths treasured Renaissance-era gems and latter-day exhibits from art movements in and around Florence accompanied by in-depth captions, the Met is the quintessential feed-blesser. From Spanish Renaissance greats such as El Greco, cubist aesthetes such as Jacob Lawrence, and Mughal-era paintings to mixed media art pieces, vintage curiosities and lithographic prints, their Instagram account keeps buzzing all day. They also have regular museum tours, just like this silent gallery tour.

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How's a side of @metgreekandroman with your morning cup of Joe? ☕ï¸Â Journey with us on a silent tour to explore sculptures that were created under Roman patronage, inspired by models from both Classical Greece and the Hellenistic kingdoms. P.S. If you like this tour, let us know in the comments. Keep an eye out in our Instagram Stories to submit your request next week when we'll visit another space in the Museum.

A post shared by The Metropolitan Museum of Art (@metmuseum) on Oct 14, 2020 at 8:16am PDT

The Met, MoMA and Maps
When in Big Apple, those short on time often find themselves picking the Met over the other famous art museum located three miles away—the MoMA, or The Museum of Modern Art. On Instagram, however, stuff is different. I was blown away by And Then We Saw the Daughter of the Minotaur by the Mexican surrealist Leonora Carrington, shared on World Mental Health Day.

Read: 5 Iconic US Museums

MoMa Instagram is also your gateway to the museum’s informative multimedia experiences—they have series such as MoMA Virtual Views and guided visualisations as well. Just check out this stunning painting by Frida Kahlo, called Self-Portrait with Cropped Hair!

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Can you guess who the sitter is in this hair-strewn self-portrait? In a departure from the feminine clothing and accessories she often depicted herself wearing, #FridaKahlo sports a loose-fitting men's suit and short-clipped haircut in “Self-Portrait with Cropped Hair.” Take a closer look at the 1940 self-portrait. The androgynous persona may refer to Kahlo’s bisexuality, while the lyrics of a popular Mexican song that appear at top suggest the address of a lover: “Look, if I loved you it was because of your hair. Now that you are without hair, I don’t love you anymore.” Kahlo and her husband, the artist #DiegoRivera, had divorced in late 1939, and the painting indicates both the violence of separation and a newfound autonomy. Yet Kahlo also takes aim at misogyny and male fragility. For the #Surrealists, hair was charged and fetishized, capable of inciting both desire and disgust. The scissors’ position in her lap is a pointed reference to Freud’s concept of castration anxiety, or fear of emasculation. See the work in the #MoMACollection gallery Surrealist Objects, and unpack how it captures the artist’s evolving identity in a new book from our One on One series. Get your copy at the link in our bio. #SlowLooking --- [Frida Kahlo. “Self-Portrait with Cropped Hair” (detail). 1940. Oil on canvas. © 2020 Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York]

A post shared by MoMA The Museum of Modern Art (@themuseumofmodernart) on Sep 25, 2020 at 5:51am PDT

Another US museum that has made our (not exhaustive) list is The Art Institute of Chicago. The museum has over 30 of Monet paintings, and they regularly feature in the museum’s feed. One can also watch videos breaking down classic works of art such as Picasso’s The Old Guitarist and a Buddha sculpture from India. They also do special series talking about upcoming artists’ work—and fun interactive posts such as the one about their 1914 London map, and the puns and jokes in which will crease you up completely.

Take a closer look at this awfully funny London map featured on the Instagram page of Art Institute of Chicago

Cartophiles will do well also to check out the thought-provoking Tribal Map of the United States installed at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, created by visual artist Jaune Quick-to-See Smith.

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"Painted in washes of primary colors, deep greens, and soft pinks, 'Tribal Map' recalls the vibrant maps of the United States that hang in elementary school classrooms. Only here, the borders drip and bleed together, suggesting a melting of boundaries. And instead of familiar state names, we see the names of living Indigenous communities—some appear in their homelands, others over the regions where they were forced to migrate."⁣ ⁣ This week on our Art for This Moment blog, MFA curators discuss Jaune Quick-To-See Smith’s mixed-media "Tribal Map" (2000), which has taken on a somber new layer of meaning, as many Indigenous nations have been particularly hard hit by the COVID-19 outbreak. Read their full essay at the link in our bio 🔗⁣

A post shared by Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (@mfaboston) on Sep 10, 2020 at 6:04am PDT

Tip: Right across the Pacific, in Russia’s Saint Petersburg, lies the stunning State Hermitage Museum, with an Instagram feed that’ll have you smashing the follow button in no time (eye-popping, ornate religious paintings; unbelievable lithographs; and stunning portraits, and these adorable felines below).

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ЭÑ€миÑ‚ажнÑ‹е коÑ‚ики. #hermitage_museum #visit_hermitage #hermitagemuseum #shotoniphone #instagood #photooftheday #bestoftheday #instagraminrussia #埃å°Â”米å¡Â”日博物é¦Â† #åÂÂÂÂÂÂÂœ£å½¼å¾Â—堡 #shotoniphone #самоизоляция_самообÑ€азование #stayhome photo by @yury_molodkovets

A post shared by ЭÑ€миÑ‚аж / Hermitage Museum (@hermitage_museum) on Sep 11, 2020 at 3:40am PDT

All the van Goghs for Us Vincent Bros
No other name invites affirmative laymen nods as much as van Gogh, and the Instagram page of the iconic Amsterdam museum named after him is a sensation. Posts featuring his best-recognised works including Bedroom in Arles, The Sower, Wheatfield With Crows, The Garden of Saint Paul’s Hospital and Window in the Studio among others are a regularity—but the ones really worth following this page are the beautiful drawings on the back of frequent postcards the Dutch artist wrote to his brother Theo, his letters to his friend Bernard describing his brothel excursions, and informative videos for the van Gogh cult.

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📝 ‘It’s still autumnal weather here — rainy and chilly, but full of atmosphere — especially good for figures, which show a range of tones on the wet streets and roads in which the sky is reflected’, wrote Vincent van Gogh to his brother Theo in 1882. Vincent saw this scene on a rainy day in The Hague. 🍂He had difficulty with the figures, but he didn’t give up. #MondayMotivation ðŸÂÂÂÂÂÂÂŒ»Vincent van Gogh, The Poor and Money (1882) #VincentCloseBy #VanGoghMuseum #Amsterdam #DailyArt #VanGogh

A post shared by Van Gogh Museum (@vangoghmuseum) on Aug 31, 2020 at 7:20am PDT

The vast body of life work van Gogh left and the general curiosity around his struggles with mental health and penury evidently render him a very real icon for any generation. Apart from the Van Gogh Museum, you may find the Postimpressionist’s works featured on the Instagram of Kröller-Müller Museum (the second-largest collection of Van Gogh’s works) in Netherlands’ Otterlo. 

Speaking of Dutch museums, following Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum and The Hague’s Mauritshuis (the latter is home to the iconic Girl with a Pearl Earring) may deliver priceless Vermeers and Rembrandts to your feed, along with the engrossing stories behind the work featured. The folks at Mauritshuis do their informative videos and painting breakdowns quite well, too. You could even get some beard inspiration from Rijksmuseum’s posts (visual below).

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⁣Today on World Beard Day we celebrate facial hair with these five glorious beards in our collection. What's your favourite? ðŸ§Â”🏽ðŸ§Â”â Â€ â Â€ #Rijksmuseum #Amsterdam #WorldBeardDay #VanGogh

A post shared by Rijksmuseum (@rijksmuseum) on Sep 5, 2020 at 5:52am PDT

Paris is six hours south of Amsterdam and when it comes to the City of Love, could one keep a Francophile away from the Louvre? Their feed is particularly easy on the eye—one might as well close their eyes, click, and find an arresting Renaissance portrait of an old man with a disfigured nose or Poussin’s vision of the enchanting countryside through the seasons. Or just go on a tour of the Tuileries Garden!

Read: These Italian Museums Will Take You by Surprise

At the Instagram page of the Musée d’Orsay, you can amuse yourselves with sketches by resident artists featuring Proust and Monet, break the proverbial fourth wall looking at James Tissot’s London Visitors, or decode the cute monsters of Leopold Chauveau.

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À LA DÉCOUVERTE DE LÉOPOLD CHAUVEAU Une série qui vous parle de cet artiste aussi singulier qu'original à travers ses oeuvres, sa vie, ses écrits. Aujourd'hui: Testaments . En illustrant la "Bible", en 1920- 1921, Léopold Chauveau s’inscrit dans une longue tradition iconographique, des enluminures et vitraux médiévaux jusqu’aux récentes illustrations de Gustave Doré et James Tissot très populaires au tournant du XXe siècle. Il rejoint aussi l’univers synthétique et coloré des Nabis, en particulier de Maurice Denis et de Charles Filiger, admirateurs de la simplicité des peintres primitifs italiens et des icônes. . Exposition "Au pays des monstres. Léopold Chauveau", jusqu'au 13 septembre au musée d'Orsay (lien dans la bio). . #museedorsay #museeorsay #orsaymuseum #artmuseum #artgallery #fineart #beauxarts #artexhibition #art #museum #Paris #sculpture #dessin #drawing #monstre #monster #imagination #expochauveau #chauveau #leopoldchauveau . ðŸÂÂÂÂÂÂÂŽ¨ Léopold Chauveau, "Ancien Testament. Dieu crée les oiseaux"

A post shared by Musée d'Orsay (@museeorsay) on Aug 24, 2020 at 3:00am PDT

The London Circuit
London, too, is home to several must-visit museums, and in addition to some really informative posts the National Gallery is doing on Artemisia Gentileschi as part of the ongoing exhibition, there is a lot to see and be fascinated by on their Instagram. Their love of outdoor spaces when it comes to the subjects of their exhibits is evident, as seen in Alexandre Calame’s Swiss landscapes, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot’s depiction of Coubron near Paris and the Italian countryside, Camille Pissarro’s Late Afternoon in our Meadow and others. Oh, and by the way, it is at the prestigious National Gallery that the best-known of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers series paintings is housed.

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Around 200 of Cézanne’s works depict male and female nude bathers, either singly or in groups, in a landscape. This large painting is one of three pictures of female bathers that Cézanne worked on during the final decade of his life. They represent the culmination of his lifelong investigation of this subject and the climax of his entire career, and were hugely influential on early twentieth-century art. The subject of women relaxing in a woodland glade beneath an azure sky draws on a classical tradition of pastoral scenes of nude or semi-nude figures in an idealised landscape. More particularly, it recalls pictures of bathing nymphs and goddesses, especially the mythological scenes of Venetian Renaissance art. However, Cézanne’s painting has no clear narrative or literary source. The composition, which echoes the pyramidal base of a mountain, as well as the use of colour, serves to integrate the women with the landscape. Cézanne’s last paintings might perhaps be seen as his final celebration of nature and our union with it. Paul Cézanne, 'Bathers (Les Grandes Baigneuses)', about 1894-1905 © The National Gallery, London #paulcézanne #cézanne #bathers #nationalgallery

A post shared by National Gallery (@nationalgallery) on Aug 8, 2020 at 6:51am PDT

For portraits (photographs and otherwise) like Justin Mortimer’s striking rendering of playwright Harold Pinter, head to the National Portrait Gallery (also in London), which is shut until the spring of 2023 as it undergoes a major revamp.

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“There are some things one remembers even though they may never have happened.”⁠ ⁠ Harold Pinter, playwright, actor and director, was born #onthisday in 1930.⁠ ⁠ Justin Mortimer's portrait of the renowned playwright is a modern version of the 'man of letters' portrait type and shows Pinter's head before a massive pile of books and scripts, with a vivid red background. Pinter later reflected that during the sitting he was thinking about 'life, death and everything; I was quite relaxed'.⁠ ⁠ #NationalPortraitGallery #Portraiture #Theatre ⁠ ⁠ ðŸÂÂÂÂÂÂÂŽ¨ Harold Pinter by Justin Mortimer 1992 © National Portrait Gallery, London

A post shared by National Portrait Gallery (@nationalportraitgallery) on Oct 10, 2020 at 10:05am PDT

The other excellent art museum accounts we would recommend are the Tate Galleries page, with its stimulating mix of experimental works of art and lesser-known masterpieces from the 20th century, and the Victoria and Albert Museum. The museum also hosts free VR events and the next one is less than a week away (October 22).

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#DespiertaConArte "La Faim"que Remedios Varo pintó en 1938, comparte contenidos con las figuras surrealistas realizadas por Picasso entre 1929 y 1930, en las que destacan prominentes y voraces dientes.

A post shared by Museo Reina Sofía (@museoreinasofia) on Oct 2, 2020 at 1:00am PDT

Avid outdoorists will find much joy in the bright landscapes on Museo Sorolla’s Instagram page. Otherwise a relatively small museum in Madrid, their Instagram posts are highly engaging and uplifting. In Madrid, too, is the Museo Nacional del Prado, and these are kind folks that do not just video tours (and quite a lot of them) but also Flamenco performances!

Read: Spain: Day and Night in Costa del Sol

The Spanish capital also has the Museo Reina Sofía, and their Instagram page is a mixed bag, with posts ranging from surrealist paintings, abstract expressionist work, antique photographs, works by Dali and Remedios Varo, and interesting latter-day takes such as Argentine cartoonist Quino’s reinterpretation of Guernica by Picasso. In case you want even more of Picasso, Barcelona’s Picasso Museum has a feed that is full of the works of the famous Spanish artist.

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