Title:Instagram Trends: Visual Narratives of Embodied Experiences at the Museum of Islamic Art
Authors:Maria Paula Arias
Publication:MW18: Museums and the Web 2018

The Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) in Doha, Qatar is a landmark building in the city and the country. Located on its own island, the museum seems to float in the Arabian Gulf nestled between 'old' and 'new' Doha. Designed by renowned architect I.M. Pei, MIA is a popular destination for tourists and residents alike. With an Instagram following of more than 37 million users, the museum and its surrounding areas also prove to be a popular destination for photo opportunities. This paper presents the results of a 6-month study of more than 4,000 Instagram images, posted between November 2014 and November 2015, tagged to the Museum of Islamic Art's geolocation. Drawing on visual content analysis, the project reveals graphic trends in the visiting narrative, situating this experience not only within the museum's collection, but also within the social and cultural fabric of the country. The paper argues for a stronger emphasis to the role of visual media shared online, as a meaning-laden medium and embodied social practice that has the capacity to create preconceptions and expectations about museum visiting experiences. In addition, the potential of visual media is discussed as habitual products that fuel a virtuous circle of influence between individuals and communities through practices of collaboration and co-creation of information and narratives. Overall, the paper will offer an understanding of the potential of Instagram as a reflection of the cultural citizenship of the varied memory communities associated with the museum - online and offline.