Nicole Mullen MSc Marketing

Despite being historically elitist and exclusive institutions, art galleries have expanded their public presence in recent years by actively using social media to promote exhibitions, events, and artists. While there have been studies on the usage and benefits of social media for other stakeholders in the art world such as museums and artists, there is a paucity in research regarding the social media practices of art galleries.

This study examines the content of international art galleries on the social media platform Instagram to understand if their behaviours reinforce an exclusionary environment or if they promote themselves as a more accessible institution. Using netnography and visual ethnography, the Instagram profiles of seven international and private art galleries were examined. Around 200 screenshots of varying images, videos, captions, and comments were collected and analysed using multi-modal discourse analysis to investigate both visual and textual aspects of the accounts.

The findings revealed that galleries participate in both inclusionary and exclusionary content practices, often creating an inconsistent presentation of brand messaging and intent. Where there is still a heavy presence of technical language and visuals on many gallery accounts, requiring knowledge of or participation in the arts world to comprehend the content, there are also many adaptions that conform and take advantage of the digital space, creating genuine accessibility. This study provides insight on what behaviours and content are perceived as inclusionary and exclusionary. With this, private art galleries and other organisations with high-end products or foundations can better formulate brand presentation on and utilisation of social media platforms.

07 February 2024