The National Museum of African American History and Culture opened to the public in 2016 and has since become a cornerstone destination for tourists and historians alike. It is the only national museum to focus exclusively on the life, culture, and history of African Americans. At its heart, the museum is dedicated to empowering and educating the public while working with institutions around the world. How does such a large museum, with thousands of artifacts and members, create a connection with the public? What specific forms of media do they use? What is their target audience, and does it change depending on the platform?
For the scope of this project, I will focus on NMAAHC’s accounts on instagram and twitter, where they have over 200,000 followers each.
Just from looking at these two images it becomes clear that hashtags are the predominant tool to reach the public. Both accounts have #APeoplesJourney and #ANationsStory listed in their bios, which is a direct reference to the homepage of the museums website. What posts are linked to each hashtag? How does the public react to these posts? Are there an increased number of comments on specific posts, and if so, why?
One possible approach to provide a rough outline of how the public engages with the NMAAHC’s social media is to take the top five posts for each hashtag on each social media handle and turn the posts and comments into their own individual word documents. From there, each document could be uploaded to Voyant, an online tool that allows you to visualize uploaded documents, and see the words with the highest frequency. Comparing the different corpuses would help us understand which historical moments the public is engaging with the most, and if the comments stay on topic or diverge. Do posts that highlight a specific African American leader receive positive words? Are remembrance posts dedicated to darker parts of our nations history, such as the bombing of a church, receive the same amount of attention? Does the wider cultural and political context effect how the public reacts to different posts?