TikTok is proving to be extremely popular with museums. In the past two years, institutions such as the Akron Art Museum, Andy Warhol Museum, and Black Country Living Museum have all launched accounts on the short-video platform. TikTok activations like #MuseumMoment have also proven instrumental in engaging younger audiences.
The latest museum to leverage TikTok programming is the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) for Fashioning Masculinities: The Art of Menswear, its first large-scale exhibition dedicated to the art and history of menswear.
On April 4, the V&A hosted a private viewing of Fashioning Masculinities for 90 TikTok content creators, as part of the platform’s creative learning initiative, #LearnOnTikTok. Hosted by model and influencer Callum Mullin, the event was co-organized by the V&A, TikTok, exhibition sponsor Gucci, and media partner CULTED.
Participants were given a livestreamed tour of the exhibition by co-curator Marta Franceschini, who highlighted the show’s key menswear pieces by Raf Simons, Harris Reed, and of course, Gucci, as well as contemporary art by Robert Longo and Omar Victor Diop.
A beading workshop hosted by conceptual jeweler Clova Rae-Smith and a selfie area created by Gucci deepened engagement, before Gucci goodie bags were handed out to creators and attendees at the event’s close.
Why it matters
The V&A’s Fashioning Masculinities TikTok event did a notable job at highlighting LGBTQ+ influencers and, in turn, LGBTQ+ voices. On TikTok, the hashtag #fashioningmasculinities has more than 560.3K views, with many videos including hashtags like #lgbt. “Our goal was to grow the V&A TikTok channel, build relationships, and raise awareness of the exhibition within new, diverse, Gen Z audiences,” the museum tells Jing Culture & Commerce.
According to one study, one in five Gen Z-ers identify as LGBTQ, with the “pink dollar” (a term coined in 1990 that references LGBTQ+ purchasing power) estimated to be approximately $3.7 trillion worldwide. By inviting LGBTQ+ influencers to a high-profile cultural event and actively encouraging LGBTQ+ participation, the V&A aligns itself with LGBTQ+ equality and representation, establishing the museum as an inclusive and “safe space” for LGBTQ+ visitors. To avoid “queerbaiting” (disingenuously or superficially supporting LGBTQ+ communities), institutions should include LGBTQ+ narratives with the same respect due to other at-risk and minority communities such as visitors with disabilities, ethnic and racial minorities, and non-native language speakers.