The Newly Insta-Famous Renwick Gallery Is Ready for Your Close Ups
No selfie stick is left behind.
Here in the year 2016, you’re only as interesting as your latest Instagram, and that goes for cultural institutions as well as human beings, alas. The newly-renovated Renwick Gallery, which re-opened this November in Washington, DC, after a two year hiatus, clearly understands this principle—while other institutions are banning selfie sticks and begging visitors to silence their cell phones, they’ve placed several signs encouraging Insta uploads throughout the space. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that the current exhibition, aptly named “Wonder,” is practically begging to be photographed.
Featuring immersive, site-specific installations by Maya Lin, Leo Villareal, John Grade, Gabriel Dawe, Jennifer Angus, Tara Donovan, Patrick Dougherty, Chakaia Booker, and Janet Echelman, the space has quickly become a must-shoot backdrop for art lovers as well as fashion bloggers, tourists, and even a few wedding parties.
“We’re all flabbergasted, to be frank,” curator Nicholas Bell told the Washington Post. “I wonder, what are they even trying to say? ‘I am here Instagramming?’ It’s like this new first-person narrative of the museum experience. I’m fascinated.”
Bell’s assumption is pretty much right on the money—as we’ve seen time and time again, once something goes viral on Instagram, it’s likely to attract hoards of people who are there for the photo-op and not much else (think: the Rain Room, this summer’s germ-laden “beach” at the National Building Museum, and pretty much anything produced by artist Yayoi Kusama in the past three years). For art institutions, this is both a blessing and a curse, as ticket sales rise, and overcrowding means that you may not actually be able to see the art on display without wiggling through the horde.
But for now, the “Photography Encouraged” signs will remain at the Renwick, providing encouragement to social media mavens and newbies alike. Until someone almost inevitably ruins it for the rest of us, that is.
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