The Art of the Pin: A Look at 3 Museums’ Pinterest Accounts

Carly Syms


VIP + Marketing Manager

Social media is one of the most powerful tools museums can use to connect with and inspire their audiences outside of the institution’s walls. While Twitter and Facebook are often the go-to for many cultural institutions, the visual aspects and nature of Pinterest perfectly align with the curation of museum collections.

We know what you’re thinking – but Pinterest isn’t just for DIYers and foodies. Think of it as the dark horse of social media with endless opportunities for exhibit promotion and creative marketing. Pinterest boards are essentially collections, are they not? The best way to show you how effective Pinterest can be as a marketing tool is for us to dig deep into the Pinterest accounts of some of the biggest museums out there.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Met's Pinterest Page

The Met is no stranger to Pinterest. They have 61 Pinterest boards with over 7000 pins. If you are looking for a model pinner, look no further. The Met’s Pinterest boards range in topic and medium, from exhibits to uniquely themed categories such as Met Selfies and Cosmic Wonders.

The unique board themes hold a hint of humor and categorize artifacts/art that wouldn’t normally exist in the same collection. This is a winning strategy for The Met. Followers and researchers can easily find all the Met’s cat-related pieces or find a specific exhibit that sparks their interest. Easy-access categories with honed in themes are a great way for the museum to broaden its audience. Knowing what the interest loves is also a bonus tactic. Everyone knows the internet loves cats, and that cat themed Pinterest board is perfect for cat lovers and art lovers alike.

The Met pins consistently with enough time between pins so they don’t overwhelm their followers. Being consistent is key for Pinterest. Followers know they can count on the museum for posts but aren’t overwhelmed with images.

One area where the Met could use improvement comes in the shape of a little red heart. While sharing highly interesting content continuously is an important factor when it comes to Pinterest, the “like” action is crucial. The last time the Met “liked” a post was one year ago. Interaction with followers creates stronger brand recognition and trust. Liking other museum’s pins could help leverage the reach of the Met’s Pinterest account and help them grow their follower base.

J. Paul Getty Museum

J. Paul Getty Pinterest

The Getty has mastered the art of the tongue-in-cheek Pinterest board. From Art Cosplay to The Naked Truth, the Getty’s one million followers have a lot to look forward to. The fun and cheeky boards are perfect for the casual Pinterest browser and fit right in with the idea of getting lost in an “internet hole.”

One very important aspect of the Getty’s Pinterest account is the Insta-Getty board.  Featuring posts from Getty patrons all over the world, the Insta-Getty board is a great way for the Getty to embrace it’s audience and show how much their patrons contribute to the institution.  Just like The Met, the Getty pins often, making sure their followers always have something new to interact with.

While the Insta-Getty board is a smart one, the images get the least pins and likes of all the Getty boards. To improve the circulation of these images, the Getty could, instead of pinning directly from Websta.me, open the board to let followers pin. Opening a Pinterest board to your followers is a great way to boost interaction and excitement. Doing this with other boards could be a good tactic for the Getty. For example: Creating a board with a specific theme and then asking followers (either on Twitter of Facebook) to find Getty pieces that fit the category and then pin them to the board.

Museum of Modern Art

The MoMA's Pinterest Page

MoMA’s Pinterest is not for its collections, but for its Design Store. This can be seen as an expert move on MoMA’s part, as the items in the store reflect some of the current exhibits. The MoMA Design Store Pinterest may only have 40 thousand followers but the organized Pinterest boards are ideal for shoppers looking to purchase items. This is very different from the two museum’s Pinterests we looked at earlier.

From furniture to photographic prints, the Design Store Pinterest holds a world of opportunity for Pinterest board themes. The first thing we notice about the Design Store Pinterest is that each pin links to an item in the store. These product pins are a perfect way to push customers through the pipeline, by sending them directly to the product itself. However, the best tactic MoMA uses is categorizing boards by pricing and events. Price themed boards are a dream for people using Pinterest to search for unique gift ideas. The same goes for Graduation or Mother’s Day gifts. This helps MoMA branch out of the museum niche and into the larger world of Pinterest. The simple and to the point boards bring a different type of traffic—  people who may not have searched for MoMA but end up on the Pinterest by searching “Gifts under $100.”

To keep the momentum moving, MoMA could apply one of Pinterest’s newest features: the buy now button. A new feature of the Pinterest app, the buy now button allows users to purchase directly through Pinterest. Cutting down clicks and giving the option of immediate purchase could be a great way for MoMA to increase Design Store sales.

Learn from these three cultural giants by applying their winning strategies to your organization’s Pinterest. Don’t forget – everyone loves a uniquely themed Pinterest board and opening your boards up to the public encourages interaction.

Find out about our consulting work with museums, or email us at info@museumhack.com to find out more about how we can help your institution with audience development and upgrading your social media efforts.

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