Generation Z has a different relationship with art museums than previous generations. Art museums have recently become a site for teens to take Instagram photos and film TikToks instead of appreciating the artistry around them. This growing disconnect between today’s youth and traditional art worries many artists who worry about the diminishing admiration of artistic pieces. This recent event is directly linked to the fact that the consumption and dissemination of art is now largely done through social media. Works of art and art museums have been reduced to the background where teens can show off their ‘fancy taste’ on social media, without giving importance to meaning, history or context. art.
Historically, art museums have been a place where culturally significant pieces are exhibited for the education, enjoyment and introspection of participants. Museums hold works of art that depict the specific human experience at a certain point in history. In recent years, art museums have experimented and modified their approaches in the hope of attracting a younger audience. For example, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) installed a successful exhibit titled Self-composed in 2016, where visitors could take photos of themselves with interesting silhouettes to create contemporary art selfies. Very popular modern art museums such as The Museum Of Ice Cream and The Color Factory have taken the immersive nature of this strategy to the next level: they have created massive art exhibitions with the sole purpose of providing a canvas of cool and artistic background for photos. While this shift in art museum culture is aesthetically pleasing, these showcases lack the distinct social commentary and thought provocation that have been key features of art galleries for hundreds of years. This isn’t an inherent problem, but it can be worrying when this light-hearted, social media-focused attitude is applied to meaningful art exhibitions with deep cultural significance.
The custom of aestheticizing museums on social networks is trivialized and prevents young people from genuinely engaging in the work of art or creating a dialogue.
The standardization of museums created just for Instagram posts has helped teens develop the belief that all art museums serve this purpose. It’s no surprise that we see teenagers using historically established Orthodox art museums as photographic backgrounds. Unfortunately, this new goal for museums devalues pieces by emphasizing the surface aesthetics of art without thinking about the meaning behind it. Many art critics argue that a thorough analysis is integral to the appreciation of artistic creations.
Another factor that has contributed to the increase in superficiality in the relationship between youth and art is the practice of perpetuating an idealized version of oneself to the public through social media. There is an air of elegance and class associated with art museums like the Met and the Louvre, as well as renowned works of art. Amid themes of travel, health and fitness, and the urban lifestyle, the idealized aesthetic of academia and art manifests itself by showing off its sophistication in a museum. Many social media users use art museums to contribute to this aesthetic; the intellectual and elegant essence of museum attendance naturally adapts to the desired theme. In addition, the custom of aestheticizing museums on social networks is trivialized and prevents young people from truly engaging in the work of art or creating a dialogue. It allows art to become a product used to briefly display its worldliness and cultural experience.
This change in the culture and etiquette of the museum diluted the experience of witnessing artistic creations. Having said that, any initiative that draws a large number of people to a museum creates the opportunity for someone to experience something new and maybe be really moved by it.