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Pride Goes Virtual: #MuseumPrideParade & Your Online Community

Category: Marketing & Public Relations
Slogan buttons reading "Let's face it we're all queer," "'I DO' support marriage equality," and "Equality for Homosexuals."
Museums around the world are invited to celebrate Pride on social media this week by sharing LGBTQ-related objects and stories and choosing a partner institution. Here's how to join the parade.

Authors’ Note: Given the events of June and campaigns supporting #BlackLivesMatter, and conversations with many of you, we do not feel it is appropriate to flood the feeds with a celebratory campaign of #MuseumPrideParade and have canceled the campaign. We hope this content outline still provides support for thinking about Pride content this month.


What does Pride mean to you, your organization, and your online communities? This annual celebration spans rainbow flags, civil rights activism, gatherings with friends, and all-night dance parties—all of which come together in a march.

June is Pride month, and while most museums are temporarily closed and we can’t march together in person, we can throw a #MuseumPrideParade on Twitter! Join us to celebrate Pride on Wednesday, June 10, at 11 a.m. EST.

#MuseumPrideParade is the third global campaign organized by the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden and the New-York Historical Society during the pandemic, following on the heels of #MuseumBouquet and #MuseumSunshine. We created those campaigns as an opportunity to fill Twitter feeds with moments of brightness during quarantine, developing the concepts to be relevant in theme to our communities and broad enough that any institution could participate. Participating in simple, warm moments of conversation like these helps to humanize your institution by building out its social media “voice” beyond marketing or academic posts. 

We decided Pride was the right opportunity for a third campaign, to help museums celebrate in place of the exhibits, film screenings, programs, and parade-marching many would normally be participating in. How do you participate? It’s simple—showcase images from Pride marches and other LGBTQIA+ protests throughout history, or other objects and stories from LGBTQ history, using the #MuseumPrideParade hashtag, and choose another institution to tag as your virtual marching partner. 

For example: We’re sharing [object] for the #MuseumPrideParade and marching with [@institution].

As far as choosing content to share, we want this to be a light lift—even if it’s one post that you would normally share for Pride month. You can recycle content you’ve previously posted or highlight new acquisitions. Some ideas include, but are not limited to:

  • Pride flags
  • “Love is love” signage
  • Archival materials
  • Oral histories
  • Buttons and posters
  • Historic photos
  • Artwork by LGBTQ artists
  • Artwork exploring LBGTQ themes
  • Recordings of public programs or interviews
  • Past exhibitions
  • Historic figures or court cases
A paper fan reading "Stonewall National Moneument: LGBTQ History is American History. Designated June 2016. National Park Foundation. #FindYourPark."
National Park Service, Stonewall fan, 2016; Paper, wood; New-York Historical Society, History Responds Collecting Initiative

Pride has a long history to pull from, including the ongoing struggle for equality in society today. The spirit of this campaign is to tell inclusive stories. You don’t have to shy away from difficult histories or the fact that there is still work to be done. Don’t have collections featuring LGBTQ stories or objects? Share photos and stories of your staff Pride alliance or DEAI board instead. Or share rainbows from your collections or retweet other organizations sharing Pride ephemera. Highlight voices other than your own. Let your online audience know that you are commemorating and celebrating Pride with them.

If you like the sound of campaigns like these, there is a strong community of social media managers in cultural institutions who regularly plan them, with several already lined up for Pride month and beyond. Add these to your calendar: join the National Archives for their monthly “Hashtag Parties,” or the upcoming International Museum Instaswap on June 17. These larger field-wide conversations and opportunities should be part of your digital strategy. We agree with Claire Lanier, the social media manager at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, who told The Art Newspaper, “If you’re not engaging with other accounts, you’re really only doing half the work of social media: the media part. And the social part is just as significant.”

Your participation helps these ideas shine; sign up here for more details and updates—and we’ll see you at the march at 11 a.m. EST on Twitter! 

About the authors:

Hilary-Morgan Watt (@bluelikechagall) is the Digital Engagement Manager for the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (@hirshhorn). With 14 years of experience in museums and galleries, Ms. Watt has led digital strategy workshops across the Smithsonian and lectured at the State Department, George Mason University, and Georgetown University. She is an active member of ArtTable and an adjunct professor at the George Washington University.

Emily Haight (@em_dash_h8) is the Social Media Manager at the New-York Historical Society (@nyhistory). She currently serves on the communications team of the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) Media & Technology Professional Network and chairs the Social Media Special Interest Group for Museum Computer Network (MCN). She values cross-institutional collaboration through social media, sparking dialogue with online communities, and creative uses of technology in museum spaces.

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