Shuttered Museums Use Social Media to Share Bouquets of Floral Artwork

Hundreds of museums are participating in an online attempt to spread joy as COVID-19 keeps their galleries empty

Cardinal flower
Mary Vaux Walcott, Cardinal Flower, 1880 Smithsonian American Art Museum / Gift of the artist

Around the world, museums filled with artworks that offer millions of people inspiration and serenity now sit empty, shuttered as part of global efforts to stymie COVID-19. Unable to welcome visitors in person, many cultural institutions have begun sharing snapshots of works on social media, encouraging art lovers to engage with their collections through virtual tours, audio guides and other digital offerings.

Last week, museums started showing love to one another by posting photos of floral artwork labeled with the hashtag #MuseumBouquet, reports Noor Brara for artnet News.

The New-York Historical Society and the Smithsonian Institution’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden kicked off the trend by sending digital bouquets to other art institutions. The former shared its first petaled missive—a cluster of apple blossoms painted by American artist Martin Johnson Heade—with the Smithsonian American Art Museum, while the latter sent Tate Britain “a little cheer” in the form of an Andy Warhol bouquet.

In short order, the Smithsonian American Art Museum sent a colorful still life by H. Lyman Saÿen to the Akron Art Museum.

From there, the hashtag blossomed, with more than 300 museums, libraries, galleries and other cultural organizations participating. Institutions from the Metropolitan Museum of Art to the Guggenheim, the Frick Collection, the MassArt Museum, the Field Museum and the MCA Chicago all joined in the uplifting social media trend, according to artnet News. See additional examples of posts from the New Museum, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Field Museum and the Cleveland Museum of Art in this featured Twitter Moment.

Per a New-York Historical Society blog post, some 3,500 Twitter users ended up sharing more than 7,000 posts labeled with the #MuseumBouquet hashtag. The campaign garnered attention in dozens of countries, including Chile, Cyprus, Nepal, New Zealand and Latvia.

The cultural institutions sharing and receiving these works of art weren’t the only ones who appreciated the colorful digital bloom, reports Danielle Garrand for CBS News. Twitter users also welcomed the break from news of COVID-19’s deadly progression.

“#MuseumBouquet is sparking such joy and [brightness],” wrote user @ShamonPR.

@Watt_Ever_008, meanwhile, wrote, “Brilliant idea to bring some beauty into the lives of those Self Isolating during these difficult times.”

In the weeks before the bouquets started flying on Twitter, cultural institutions had already started using social media to reach the public in hopes of providing some tranquility, reports Sarah Rose Sharp for Hyperallergic.

Through images of artwork, animals and artifacts, museums, zoos and galleries alike offered oases of calm distinguished by the hashtag #MuseumMomentofZen.

The Museum of the City of New York appears to have started the #MuseumMomentofZen trend on social media by tweeting out Herbert Bolivar Tschudy’s serene The Turtle Tank on March 11.

“Remember, art began in caves, and … [i]t has carried us through evolution, plague, and modernity,” Sharp writes. “We can and should feel encouraged to rely on its power to do so today!”

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