Does the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney truly understand social media?

Light Show
Let there be forbidden Light (Show)

By far my favourite museum in Sydney is the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA). It is an excellent museum with a history of exquisite exhibitions, in a spectacular venue.

Currently, to coincide with Vivid Sydney, the MCA is showing ‘Light Show‘, a beautiful range of light installations that captivate and engage. The exhibition is a visual feast. To further engage visitors, the MCA created a social media hashtag, ‘#MCALight’, and printed it on the tickets, put it on their website and even pasted it on the wall at the entrance to the exhibition. Social media hashtags are, by their nature, designed to create buzz by encouraging sharing on social media.

There is one minor hitch in the MCA’s apparent grand social media strategy for Light Show. They banned photography by the public. I wondered, what did the MCA think visitors to a light installation exhibition, a most visual of mediums, would share on social media?!

Let me be clear, I am not criticising the MCA’s decision to ban photography at the Light Show. It’s not my place to do so as banning photography at an exhibition is within their sole discretion. What I am questioning is their apparent ineptness in then creating a social media hashtag campaign designed to encourage sharing … what exactly?!

Yes, I broke the rule to have a memory captured, and so did everyone else around us. It became a fun game of social conspiracy of fellow visitors looking out for the museum volunteers for each other while sneaking a guilty memento.

Consequently I posted to Instagram a blacked out image with a short message, to highlight the irony and inherent inconsistency between their apparent social media strategy and the reality. To their credit the MCA responded but, again, I think they missed my point entirely.


Thanks for commenting @stephensander. The exhibition is device free because the light generated from smartphones and digital cameras detracts from the eyes ability to experience many of the works. We’d love you all to be snapping and sharing on social media, but it would detract from the experience. Please sing out if you have any further comments as we love hearing from our Instagrammers! P.S you can still shoot the rest of the MCA as usual.

Someone at the MCA needs to enrol quickly in Social Media 101. And anyone who engages with social media can learn from their mistake: you should never just routinely attach a social media hashtag to everything you do. You need to consider each time whether social media is an appropriate enhancer in the circumstances.

Regardless of this amusing social media fail, do yourself a favour and go and see Light Show and be mesmerised and challenged by the fabulous lights. Just make sure to keep your camera firmly in your pocket … unless your larrikin Aussie spirit demands otherwise.

The exhibition runs until Sunday, 5 July.

Leave a comment. Comments are moderated ...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s