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MUSEUMS MEET MEMES

Art and history institutions thrive on TikTok

Though they may be old school, museums are kind of like the OG in experiential marketing – so it’s no surprise that these IRL exhibits have completely taken off on TikTok. Visually stunning and steeped in history, museums have proven to be excellent fodder for Gen Z’s favorite app. Today, we’re taking a closer look at the strategies museums are employing on TikTok.

ANDY WARHOL MUSEUM

When the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh began thinking about a TikTok strategy to reach younger people, they decided to go straight to the source: They hired teenagers to run their account. The bet seems to have paid off, as the museum’s TikToks are wacky, fun, and just the right amount of chaotic. The young creators – all of whom are local high school students belonging to the museum workforce development program – jump on TikTok memes almost immediately, deftly employing trending soundbites to spotlight the artwork and programming happening at the museum. Even better, many of the clips do double duty for the institution on Reels, bolstering the museum’s Instagram presence.

SACRAMENTO HISTORY MUSEUM

Taking a much different approach is the Sacramento History Museum, which has turned its octogenarian volunteer Howard Hatch into a rather unlikely TikTok star. It’s not hard to see his appeal. Not only is he a fount of knowledge, talking expertly about letterpresses and woodcuts, but he has a soothing delivery that verges on ASMR. With 2.3 million followers and 28.4 likes, the Sacramento History Museum is one of the most popular museums on TikTok. They’ve been such a hit, in fact, that they were awarded a $25K grant from TikTok for their success.

AKRON ART MUSEUM

Somewhere in the middle of the previous two TikTok strategies sits the Akron Art Museum. Seema Rao, the museum’s extremely dynamic deputy director and chief experience officer, has become the de facto face of the museum’s TikTok account. When Rao, a longtime museum professional, joined Akron, she probably did not expect “TikTok influencer” to become part of the job description, but she’s gamely embraced the challenge. Her sheer enthusiasm for art and history is infectious, and her delivery makes for TikTok content that is entertaining and educational.