It was 9:50am and I was freaking out. The Metropolitan Museum of Art would open in ten minutes, marking the beginning of my three day visit of its galleries. But I had absolutely no idea where to start or how to structure my time in the museum. I felt blocked like an artist in front of a blank canvas.
That's when I decided to tweet.
Using the hashtag #threedaysinthemet, I set out to tweet a photo and description about every half hour. (The Met provides free—and fast—WiFi, which made this possible with my Canadian phone.) I tweeted about objects, how they were displayed, and how I interacted with them.
Rather than distracting me from my visit of the Met, tweeting helped me take my time with the objects. It gave me a structure to wander through the museum and be pulled like a magnet to intriguing artworks. Then, it gave me an platform to express in a few words my encounter, be it art historical content or my experience with the object.
And it was fun! It felt like a game to find interesting artworks and creative ways to engage with them.
Tweeting also allowed me to connect with others. Occasionally people would ask for information about the artworks in my tweets, which led to fun moments of interaction. And even the Met got in touch: liking and retweeting me a few times (there is nothing quite like being retweeted by a major museum!). While brief, the interactions made me feel more connected to the institution itself.
This wasn't the first time I used Twitter as a tool to help me digest a museum visit. I tweeted during a visit to the McCord Museum's exhibition on the history of Montreal. For each section, I boiled the main points down to one tweet. It was a challenge, but the constraint of a Tweet helped me synthesize what I was learning.
Fun, social, and helpful: tweeting in museums can be a great way to visit. I would definitely recommend using Twitter to help appreciate a museum's collection. With, of course, the caveat of not getting lost on your screen and forgetting where you are- moderation with all things!