This week’s History on Instagram post concentrates on the many fabulous museums we are lucky to have in this country. In the age of social media, we are now able to view treasures from these fabulous collections from the comfort of our own home – a real gift if you live in a remote part of the world like I do. If you’re wondering which museums you should be following on Instagram to unearth these wondrous treasures, wonder no more! I present for your viewing pleasure the top museum accounts to follow on Instagram.
In previous History on Instagram posts I’ve selected accounts based solely on what they present on Instagram. However, with these museum accounts I’ve taken a slightly different approach. As well as selecting them for their aesthetic quality, I’ve also selected them for the strength and quality of their collections. I’ve done this as I think running an Instagram account can be difficult for museums – how do you create a ‘cohesive’ and ‘on-brand’ Instagram when you have a really diverse and broad collection that you want to show off? I imagine it must be really difficult.
I’ve also asked fellow Historygrammers (is that even a word? If not, it is now!) for recommendations for their favourite museum accounts on Instagram. I really respect the people who made these suggestions so I know these must be amazing places to visit. I should also point out that, for the purpose of this post, I have chosen to concentrate on what I call in my head ‘traditional’ museums as opposed to historic houses that may contain some collections or similar.
(N.B. All the pictures in this post are taken from the respective Instagram accounts, and all copyright etc belongs to the account owners unless otherwise stated)
The Wallace Collection – @wallacemuseum
The Wallace Collection is an elegant London museum with 25 galleries of paintings, furniture, porcelain and a world-class armoury. It is especially rich in 17th and 18th Century French art. I like this account as it features a variety of content I think all museum accounts on Instagram should be aspiring to use – as well as posts showing off treasures from the collections, there are posts advertising the events on offer, showing behind-the-scene-glimpses of ongoing work and – increasingly important – video content with curators and experts.
Victoria and Albert Museum – @vamuseum
Britain’s National Museum of Art and Design was founded in 1851 by Prince Albert, consort of Queen Victoria. The museum’s collections hold some of the greatest decorative art treasures from around the globe. It also keeps the world’s greatest collection of Constables and a magnificent Dress Collection. It is therefore no surprise the museum’s Instagram account is full of treasures. I particularly like following the progress of the outstanding world-class exhibitions they hold and am very much looking forward to their next exhibition Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams.
National Museums Scotland – @nationalmuseumsscotland
If you have been following me on Instagram for a while, you will know I spent a weekend in the enchanting city of Edinburgh last winter. While there, I visited the National Museum of Scotland and fell in love! To me, it is everything a museum should be in order to be accessible and relevant for the future. As well as globally-significant historical treasures, the museum has natural history, design and technology sections, along with tons of interactive exhibits and activities. My husband, who usually hates visiting museums with me, said he loved it – high praise indeed!
The Bowes Museum – @thebowesmuseum
A recent Insta discovery, I am currently loving the North’s Museum of art, fashion and design. The Bowes Museum is housed in a magnificent French château at the border of Yorkshire and County Durham. They fill the fashion-history-museum shaped void on Instagram left by the absence of an account for the Fashion Museum in Bath, and their exhibitions look really interesting.
Museum of Witchcraft and Magic – @museum_of_witchcraft_and_magic
The Museum of Witchcraft and Magic is a privately owned museum in North Cornwall with over 3000 objects and 7000 books and manuscripts. I like this account because of my interest in the history of witchcraft. Also, just by concentrating on their specialist niche, the museum has created a really cohesive ‘look’ to their Instagram account – just like all the ‘experts’ tell you you should do!
Jane Austen Centre – @jane_austen_centre
Again, another museum account who by concentrating on their subject topic has created a more cohesive and aesthetically pleasing account than most others. The Jane Austen Centre at 40 Gay Street in Bath is a permanent museum which tells the story of Jane Austen’s life and her experience while living in Bath. Their account is a must-follow for any Regency history lovers out there.
The Foundling Museum – @foundlingmuseum
This museum, located in Central London, explores the history of Britain’s first home for abandoned children and the first public art gallery. The museum also houses the Gerald Coke Handel Collection, the world’s greatest privately amassed collection of Handel memorabilia. I particularly like the 18th century art collection, especially the Georgian caricatures by Hogarth and his contemporaries, while the pictures of the tokens left with the foundlings bring a lump to my throat. Reccomended by the lovely Hannah Emily Glennon.
Sir John Soane’s Museum – @soanemuseum
Works of art and antiquities collected by the famous neo-classical architect Sir John Soane are shown in the house which he left to the nation with the condition that it be left unaltered. The interesting collection has paintings, antiquities, architectural drawings, books, scultpures and furniture. The museum is also now a centre for the study of architecture. It must be good as it was recommended by Louisa Brouwer at @curatorabroad
Surgeons’ Hall Museums – @surgeonshall
This Edinburgh museum houses the historic collections from The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. The museum has some great historical connections – for example, the infamous body snatchers Burke and Hare supplied bodies to the anatomy school of Robert Knox, the conservator of the museum. Burke’s death mask and a pocket book made from his skin are now on display in the museum. Recommended by Rob who runs the great @churchcrawling account.
Charles Dickens Museum – @dickensmuseum
The Charles Dickens Museum is the only surviving London residence of the great Victorian novelist and social commentator, where he lived from 1837 to 1839. It was while living here he wrote The Pickwick Papers, Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby. The museum contains many first editions, original manuscripts and personal letter. This Instagram account is recommended by the lovely @conservation_rachel
I know its a cliché, but there is a truth when I say museums bring history to life. And now, in the world of social media, they can bring history to life online for a wider audience.