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Instagram at the museum: Communicating the museum experience through social photo sharing

Conference paper
Authors Alexandra Weilenmann
Thomas Hillman
Beata Jungselius
Published in Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems
ISBN 978-1-4503-1899-0
Publisher Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Publication year 2013
Published at The Linnaeus Centre for Research on Learning, Interaction, and Mediated Communication in Contemporary Society (LinCS)
Department of Applied Information Technology (GU)
Department of Education, Communication and Learning
Language en
Keywords Social media, museum studies, museum of natural history, Instagram, photography, camera phones, smartphones
Subject categories Human Aspects of ICT


The everyday use of smartphones with high quality built-in cameras has lead to an increase in museum visitors’ use of these devices to document and share their museum experi- ences. In this paper, we investigate how one particular pho- to sharing application, Instagram, is used to communicate visitors’ experiences while visiting a museum of natural history. Based on an analysis of 222 instagrams created in the museum, as well as 14 interviews with the visitors who created them, we unpack the compositional resources and concerns contributing to the creation of instagrams in this particular context. By re-categorizing and re-configuring the museum environment, instagrammers work to construct their own narratives from their visits. These findings are then used to discuss what emerging multimedia practices imply for the visitors’ engagement with and documentation of museum exhibits. Drawing upon these practices, we sug- gest ways to reconnect the online social media dialogue with the museum site.

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