RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Blending art with social media language increased visits to the National Museum of Fine Arts (MNBA) by 60 percent. The “Hashtags da Arte” exhibition selected forty pieces from the museum’s collection and marked each one with stickers featuring keywords used in apps (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook) intermingled with the descriptions of the works. The method aroused young people’s curiosity for art.

Museu Nacional das Belas Artes (National Museum of Fine Arts) in Rio.
Museu Nacional das Belas Artes (National Fine Arts Museum) in Rio. (Photo internet reproduction/Wikipedia)

The exhibition was inaugurated in April of this year. In May, it welcomed 7,188 visitors against 4,473 over the same period the previous year. The success led the MNBA board to extend the exhibition until February 2020.

“People are really enjoying it, seeing it as a light, fun thing. This is very important for us, for the marketing of the Museum of Fine Arts. In this sense, the Hashtags da Arte campaign is very successful,” Nelson Moreira, MNBA’s Social Communication advisor, told Agência Brasil.

The Hashtags da Arte campaign was designed by the NBS advertising agency. According to research by the Brazilian Institute of Museums (Ibram), only 15.5 percent of the country’s population has visited museums in recent years. On the other hand, Brazilians are the second most Internet-connected people in the world, after the Chinese, according to the consultancy data.

The MNBA’s advisor said the exhibition had fulfilled its mission of attracting a new audience, made up of youths who are increasingly connected to social media.

One example is an 1817 painting depicting Brazil’s 19th Century Emperor Dom João VI posing in his gold-embroidered attire, which earned the hashtags #lookdodia, #reidocamarote, and #ostentação, among others.

“That was the point of the effort. We can see that the young public continues to flow in large numbers. This is very good for us because one of the main goals of a museum is not only to maintain the public, but also to seek its renewal. This fits like a glove for us, through this effort by director Mónica Xexéu,” said Moreira.

The exhibition Hashtags da Arte covers 40 classic works from the MNBA collection. Moreira did not rule out that the hashtags could be placed on other pieces in the museum’s collection, which includes more than 70,000 pieces, such as paintings, sculptures, art on paper and installations. “It’s a multitude of pieces, and the point is to make people consider other items in our collection.”

The MNBA’s Social Communication advisor said that noticing that people are laughing, cheerful, relaxed, and carefree in front of the paintings with stickers on them is something that has become common in recent months. “This is a depiction of this change in behavior,” he explained.

Leonardo Konjedic

The NBS agency’s creative editor, Leonardo Konjedic, is the instigator of this campaign. The idea occurred when he and NBS Art Director Roberto Ulhoa, also a painter, were visiting the museum last year.

“Since the first meeting, they’ve been very receptive.” The advertising idea invaded the museum, blending the old and the new.

The exhibition opened in April 2019. Banners were placed on the museum building’s front, along with an explanatory text on its purpose.

“The feedback was always positive for the language used in translating the history of the works of art exhibited on the walls of the MNBA in a fun and truthful style,” said the project’s designer.

The Hashtags da Arte exhibition can be visited by the public from Tuesday to Friday, from 10 AM to 6 PM, and on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, from 1 PM to 6 PM. Tickets cost R$4 (half entry) at R$8 (full entry). On Sundays, admission is free.

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