Since opening in October of 2016, the Main Museum has quickly become L.A.’s most accessible art museum. Located on 4th Street downtown, the museum is free and open to the public every Wednesday through Sunday, and its website and all its exhibit materials are presented in both English and Spanish; as part of a recent show, works created by differently abled artists were displayed at wheelchair height. The institution’s current exhibit takes accessibility to another level by breaking out of a physical space altogether.
On Instagram, the Main Museum is currently hosting Office Hours: In Focus, which the museum’s creative team believes to be the first museum-curated exhibit on the social platform. A stand-alone project running concurrent to Office Hours, an annual exhibit of works by DTLA artists, In Focus specifically highlights photography.
“We were thinking about the best way to share the work of a great group of photographers last year while also considering the precarity of space in L.A. at the moment, for artists and other residents, as well art spaces, including our own,” says Allison Agsten, the Main’s director. “Not only did an exhibition on Instagram make sense for the medium, but it made sense for the time.”
The team set up a fresh account (@officehoursinfocus2018) and populated it with images by photographers including Dan Lopez, Elizabeth Preger, and April Banks, as well text and audio clips. Rather than wedge the photographers’ works into Instagram’s designated square frame, the curators broke up the images to create grids that “allow [the photos] to breathe,” as Agsten puts it.
It makes for a seamless scroll (the presentation is way better on phone than on desktop), but it also means the individual posts—which all went up at once—can’t really be shared independent of one another. Viewers can explore the work however they’d like, but they do have to experience it as a cohesive collection of work.
“Conceptualizing and executing an exhibition within the constraints of an Instagram profile was a fun challenge,” says Alex Capriotti, the Main’s deputy director. “There are layers to how a viewer can experience this exhibition, in the same way that museums provide layers of opportunities to explore content in an onsite exhibition.”
Another benefit of a digital-first art exhibit? It never closes. Office Hours is no longer on view after November 18, but Office Hours: In Focus is viewable indefinitely.