In today’s digital age, museums have the challenging task of integrating technology into their programming, while not losing sight of the importance of their art as a part of history and its role today. Does the significance of art become clouded when it is enveloped in hashtags and Instagram bait? As part of their 200th anniversary celebration, The Prado Museum brought an Old Master to Twitter in the most unlikely of forms, an emoji. What better way to appeal to our technology addicted society while giving tech savvy art lovers a wink, and smartly marketing their landmark anniversary.
Thanks to The Prado Museum, anyone can now tweet #Prado200 and a thumbs up with a lacy, puffed sleeve appears on Twitter. Reminiscent of El Greco’s famous portrait, “The Nobleman with His Hand on His Chest,” (1580) the Prado is playfully bringing a taste of art history to Twitter. Other museums across the country and world are embracing technology and employing similarly outside the box tactics to integrate it into their exhibitions, online presence, marketing, and more. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art now has a texting service that connects viewers anywhere with their permanent collection. Anyone with a phone can text a descriptive word or emoji to the service and they’ll get back a related artwork. It is a genius way to show off art in their collection that is currently not on view, and allow viewers to learn more about a variety of art with the simplicity of texting an emoji.
As technology continues developing, museums will continue delicately balancing the fine line between incorporating the virtual and holding onto the importance of simply enticing viewers to physically visit their institution and look at art. The Prado’s nod to one of its most famous artists through Twitter is just one way of embracing the inevitable and using it to their advantage, while having fun in the process.